South Boulder residents start packing


South Boulder residents began preparing for the worst this week, gathering belongings, packing cars, kenneling pets and staying informed in case pre-evacuation notices became mandatory evacuations for their area.

Lilavati Sinclair, a resident along Bates Avenue, had already started packing before the official announcement.

“Even before we got the pre-evacuation order, I had already started putting family photos in the car,” Sinclair said. “Once I saw the plumes, I was up at Table Mesa meeting a friend for tea, and when I got to the parking lot and I could get some perspective, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s not good.’”

Sinclair wanted to make sure the car had been packed up, because having so many animals, including chickens, a hedgehog, a dog and a cat, she knew that the animals would take the most time to pack if they had to leave.

She described packing her car as an “interesting process,” having to decide what to take with limited space.

“It was the stuff that tells our story, which this will become a part of,” said Sinclair. “Photographs, primarily photographs. My daughters, they’re 10 and 15, so they don’t really sleep with their stuffed animals anymore, but they brought their favorite baby ones.”

Sinclair is concerned that news about the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs may dwarf information about the Flagstaff Fire because it is smaller. She said not knowing is one of the hardest parts.

“Being ready to go but not going anywhere is hard on my kids — it’s hard for all of us, but especially on the kids,” Sinclair said. “The car’s packed up and ready to go, but my daughter’s going to pottery class this afternoon. It’s kinda weird.”

Sinclair said a few homes along her street have already evacuated, but a majority of the street’s residents remain.

Paul Riedl hasn’t made the decision to evacuate yet, but when the notice was first issued, his house was in a unique situation, because a majority of the people living there are in the same band, Velnias.

There is a lot of musical equipment and a record collection.

“We started moving our band equipment first, and all the records we just got in the mail,” said Riedl. “Because that’s the stuff that really, really matters, because we have shows to play in the summer, and we have to go on tour in December and another one in October.”

Riedl said there are more than 2,000 records in the house, between everyone’s collection and the band’s merchandise. The records had to be packed up, and then unpacked, waiting to be moved to a safe house. Due to the heat, they would have melted in the car.

“I unpacked [the car] at about 3 in the morning,” said Riedl. “It was gonna be about 80 degrees at nine in the morning, and I didn’t want to have to wake up that early and start unpacking them.”

Even though their plans are in order as far as where to stay, Riedl and his housemates say they don’t think a mandatory evacuation will be issued. Laura Vaznelis, one of Riedl’s housemates, left work to pack her car yesterday, but remains confident the federal fire crews fighting the blaze will handle the situation — partly because government structures are threatened.

“There are so many government facilities around here, NIST is one of the most prominent ones in the nation,” said Vaznelis. “I mean, they’re gonna go all out to try and stop the fire before it gets down here.”

“I think we’ll be fine,” she said.