Colo. man protects home from wildfire with garden hose

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 12:35 PM EDT
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LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (KUSA) - As thousands of Colorado homeowners in a wildfire’s path packed up and evacuated, one man decided to stay behind and protect his home from the flames.

The Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado has burned for more than two months and is the largest in the state’s history. Mike Slate found himself face-to-face with the fire’s edge on Friday.

“That’s my house right there. It’s getting a little too close for comfort,” Mike commented in a video.

His fiancée Jeneane had left that morning after the couple watched homes around theirs go up in flames. They had gotten an evacuation order on Wednesday, but it took a few days to gather their animals up.

“I had felt so helpless … on how to help him and I could see it on our game camera coming up to my phone,” Jeneane said.

Despite the order, Mike decided to stay.

“I just knew I had to do this no matter what, and I was willing to take pretty much any risk necessary,” he said.

The night the fire approached, all Mike had to fight it with was a generator and a hose. Without knowing how much water he had in his well, he waited until the flames were right in front of him to start spraying.

“The fire and flames were just everywhere, three sides of our house, and I’m just running around with a garden hose, squirting everything I can reach,” Mike said. “And then the flames were so intense that I actually got a sunburn from it at 1 a.m.”

His neighbor was fighting the fire too, and had dug fire lines on the edge of his property.

Soon, a firetruck came to aid them, and their homes still stand today.

“I mean, that’s our livelihood. We both work fulltime jobs to be able to live out there. You hate to lose what you’ve worked so hard for,” Jeneane said.

Jeneane is still watching from her hotel room as the fire now burns to the east. Mike decided to remain at their home, with the danger of another firefight looming on the ridge above him.

“What happens if I don’t stay? That’s what really worries me,” Mike said.

Fire crews estimate more than 100 structures have been burned since the fire started in August.

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