Grand Lake community gives thanks as wildfire is completely contained

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GRAND LAKE, Colo. -- Every Fourth of July weekend, the Columbine Lake community holds a parade around the neighborhood. The kids ride their bikes, families decked out in red, white and blue cruise on ATVs, and people break out lawn chairs to cheer on their neighbors.

But this year, the parade means much more, as the community thanks firefighters and first responders who contained a fire that was -- quite literally -- too close to home.

“When you look at where the fire line actually stopped, it’s real,” said David Kaeding while looking out his backyard, starring at a line of charred-black trees 100 yards away.

The Kaedings were out of town when they got a call from neighbors saying the Golf Course Fire was raging close to their house.

“Saying, ‘we’re watching the fire, it’s coming right to your house.’” Kaeding said. “And there’s nothing you can do and your dogs are still in your house. It’s very scary. Very scary.”

Walking through his backyard, Kaeding noticed the orange tape markers firefighters used to identify hot spots. Some embers caught up in the wind and landed in his backyard, some 30 yards away from his home.

“It takes a special person to run the wrong direction,” Kaeding said.

Back in Grand Lake, Judy Tumblin collected money for the annual fireworks show. She says they raise about $60,000 every year for four different shows over the lake, with the biggest being on Independence Day.

“This July 4, it’s not appropriate to do fireworks,” Tumblin said. She walked around town, touting her Grand Lake Fireworks T-shirt, but had a makeshift “Not this 4th” pin right on its front.

On Saturday, there was a unanimous decision to cancel the Independence Day fireworks show, according to Grand Lake Fire Chief Mike Long.

But this community doesn’t need fireworks to celebrate the holiday. They have so much to be grateful for: their community, their homes and each other. No structures were damaged and no one was injured during the Golf Course Fire that forced hundreds of homes to be evacuated.

The fire burned 20 acres, and as of 6 p.m. Saturday, is 100 percent contained, according to Chief Long.

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