To Be Young Once, And Brave

An unextraordinary fire in Colorado flares into catastrophe and takes extraordinary lives

It probably began with a stroke of lightning on a juniper or spruce tree, or in the oak brush that dotted the parched sandstone slopes of Colorado's Storm King Mountain. For three days the fire behaved itself, apparently stalled on a mere 50 craggy acres near the resort town of Glenwood Springs (pop. 5,800), 60 miles west of Vail. Extinguishing it fast did not seem a high priority; 13 other fires were burning nearby, and more than 100,000 acres blazed elsewhere across the hot, dry U.S. West.

Eventually, last Wednesday, 52 members of fire-fighting units based in Colorado, Montana, Idaho and...

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