It's day 18 of the most destructive fire in Colorado history. 87,000 acres have been charred, more than 250 homes have burned to the ground, and the fire is a little more than 50 percent contained.
But the heat of the fire is being felt states away, here in Sioux Falls. One local family says their son is caught right in the middle of the inferno.
There are probably very few South Dakotans watching the Colorado fires as closely as Lee and Charlotte Wintersteen.
"In fact I haven't gotten to bed very much, I try to sleep but I can't sleep." Said Charlotte Wintersteen.
That's because her son Glenn Chambers, is one of the hundreds of people forced to leave his home behind. Chambers, his wife and two kids, had to quickly pack up Sunday morning.
"Right as we got told to evacuate you could see the fire come up over the ridge where we live, we loaded as much as we could, valuables, pictures, birth certificates, wedding tape, that kind of stuff and about that time we drove down the highway and closed it off so there was no coming back." Said Chambers, in a phone interview.
Fire was literally on his doorstep, this is a picture from Chambers' driveway. Charlotte couldn't believe it when he told her.
"I panicked! I was ready to get in the car and go get him right now, stuff him and get him out of there!" Said Charlotte Wintersteen.
But Chambers plans to stay near his home, for now. In the mean time, Charlotte and lLe will rely on their faith for protection.
"That's about all we're doing is praying, praying the lord keeps his hand on them and I think he's doing a good job of that so far." Said Charlotte Wintersteen.
Right now, Chambers' family is stay at a hotel in Colorado Springs. They were told Tuesday morning they should plan on being homeless until mid July. Even miles away from the fire line, Chambers says there's always a reminder of it's power.
"It kind of calms down at night but right now the sky just exploded with smoke all over again." Said Chambers.
Back in Sioux Falls, Charlotte is truly appreciating the cell phones and facebook that are keeping her in touch with her grandkids.
"I charge my phone about four times a day because we're on the phone continuously and that's helping because I can talk with the children and then see that they're ok on the iPad." Said Charlotte Wintersteen.
But that same technology is a two-edged sword. Charlotte can hardly stand to watch the video that her son sent her Tuesday afternoon. It's a video of the ridge outside his front window from the day they left their home behind.
While it's a difficult situation having family in harms way it's the words of her grandson Hunter that are making things a little easier on this grandma.
"Last night he says, grandma we're ok, we're going to be ok, he says don't you worry we're going to be ok." Said Charlotte Wintersteen.
Chambers says the firefighters have done a great job doing their best to keep the flames away from homes in the area. The only downside is insurance companies who won't help Chambers with expenses until after this historic fire event is over.
Tuesday, December 3 2013 10:48 PM EST2013-12-04 03:48:06 GMT
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