The smoke billowed so high, wide and dark, that in a photo of the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire dozens of Colorado Springs, Colo., homes are barely visible.
The inferno that burned on the Pike National Forest for 18 days lasted just four hours in Colorado Springs. But the wind-fueled fire claimed two lives, devoured 347 homes, scorched 18,247 acres and frightened the 32,000 evacuees and many others who feared how much hotter and destructive the fire could get.
It could have been worse. There are reasons that it wasn’t.