Quarry unlikely hero in canyon fire

For many years, the residents of Oak Valley and Oak Valley Ranch, in Colorado Springs, had decried the 32ha (80 acre) Pikeview Quarry as an ?eyesore?. They nicknamed the limestone quarry ?the scar? because it was embedded into the side of the picturesque mountain view that backed onto their homes and could be viewed for kilometres along the Interstate 25 highway.

As recently as 2008 and 2009, the quarry had been the site of two dramatic landslides, which had seen up to two million tonnes of limestone cascade down the mountainside. This further spooked residents who were concerned that rubble might roll into their backyards.

However, in the wake of the devastating Waldo Canyon fire in late June that destroyed 346 homes and resulted in the evacuation of 32,000 residents, the members of the Oak Valley neighbourhood are relieved and thankful that the quarry was there after all.

The fire line stopped at the edge of the quarry. Charred forest can be seen just above the rock and the hundreds of homes beneath it were unscathed.

Rob Hellem and his family had a front row view of the oncoming flames and certainly did not expect to see their home again after they evacuated.

?It was very emotional,? Hellem said. ?My wife had a lot of tears as we were leaving. We really thought we were going to lose everything.

?We came home and the bull dozer line was behind our house. We saw the scar was intact and our whole neighbourhood was saved.?

Neighbour Matt Rodgers credited the quarry with taking ?out all the heavy fuels? and ?saving half of our neighbourhood. If that heavy timber [forest] was all the way out here we wouldn?t have a neighbourhood right now?.

The verdict in Oak Valley now is that the quarry is no longer the scar of old on the community. Grateful children have already made signs declaring ?We love the quarry?.

?Thank goodness for the quarry,? Rodgers said. ?It saved the neighbourhood for sure.?

?We totally love the scar now,? Hellem agreed.

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Sources:, Colorado Springs Gazette

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