(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert, Fort Collins, CO 06.17.12

Sitting in my darkened house with the swamp cooler running, I can almost convince myself that today is just another typical hot summer day. In my mind all I have to do is stay inside and avoid the heat—which is true in many ways for me, living in my suburb of metropolitan Denver.

However, while hot air awaits me outside, for many others there is little refuge from nearby flames. Latest reports show twelve* active fires burning throughout the state. After an incredibly dry winter and spring in Colorado, these first days of summer are showing no mercy either—rain may be our fervent desire, but so far she is playing more than hard to get.

Just as predicted earlier in the year as the snow pack failed to accumulate anything beyond historic low levels and then disappeared in record time, this summer of 2012 has set itself up to compare with the summer of 2002—you know, the summer when then-Governor Bill Owens was skewered for speaking honestly and declaring that “all of Colorado was burning.”

Boards of tourism and PR flacks aside, that’s exactly what the people of Colorado thought. Back then, my asthma was much less under control and I cringed to see the ashes falling. Those of us not affected by losing our homes and/or beautiful views were still pushed inside.

Here we go again—except during the last decade the pine-beetle epidemic has killed and/or sickened many trees in our forests, turning previously healthy trees into additional fuel for fires. And, drought conditions + pine-beetle kill=tinderboxes just waiting for wayward lightning strikes or human carelessness. (Click here to read an explanation on the connection between the pine beetles and the High Park fire in Larimer County.) Supposedly half the nation’s wildfire firefighters are here in Colorado.

I know this isn’t really about me and my asthma. Somewhere outside my cool walls, a lot of people have lost their homes while others’ homes remain in harm’s way. Others are risking their lives to protect homes and lives and livelihoods.

Pray that weather change comes to soak the lands—“monsoon season” can’t arrive soon enough.

* By the time I posted this in the afternoon, the number of active fires reported on 9News.com had been reduced to seven active fires–and that’s good news!