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One Year Ago: Ongoing Effects of Four Mile Canyon Fire

September 1, 2011

BOULDER, Colo. - Nearly one year ago, on Sept. 7, 2010, flames raced through Four Mile and Sunshine canyons, causing the most devastating fire in Colorado history. Fire victims - as well as those whose homes were spared - are still dealing with the trauma from the disaster.

The summer home of Tucson chef Janos Wilder was one of those to narrowly escape the flames. He and his wife were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary at their Gold Hill cabin when they saw an 80-foot wall of fire heading toward them.

"Rebecca said, 'Oh, my God. Look, look outside the back windows!' The fire was roaring up onto the meadow behind our house. We had very little time to evacuate."

After they fled, the wind shifted and slurry crews were able to dump flame retardants and save their cabin. Others were not so lucky - 169 homes were destroyed in the Four Mile Canyon fire.

This year, Wilder, who owns three restaurants and is a former chef at the Gold Hill Inn, has invited other chefs to help with a fundraiser and auction on Wednesday, Sept. 7. It benefits a fund to provide counseling and mental health services to fire survivors, as well as the Sunshine, Four Mile, Gold Hill and Sugarloaf fire departments.

Amy Hardy is the Four Mile Recovery Resource Coordinator with Foothills United Way, which is offering vouchers for mental health services to those directly affected by the fire. She is also the mayor of Gold Hill.

Hardy says the voucher program is designed for independent-minded people who live in the mountains and may be hesitant to seek help. Even small things can trigger traumatic memories, she warns.

"I'm telling you, it's just the wind blowing right now. It's the warm wind in the mountains, blowing, that's setting people off. Just that alone is reminding everybody of what happened last year."

Wilder says he hopes the event, which will be held at the Gold Hill Inn at 6:30 p.m., will not only raise money to help people but also will celebrate the community's survival.

"Here we are and, you know, there were so many heroes and so much to celebrate. That, more than anything else, is what this dinner is about."

More information on the fire recovery efforts, as well as event tickets, is at

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO