PARKERSBURG - Several Parkersburg natives in Colorado have a firsthand view of the wildfires burning out of control.
The fires are not in the city, but the smoke and ash are, said Ryan Berry, a 1991 graduate of Parkersburg High School.
"At 5:30 yesterday evening (Tuesday), it was completely dark because of the smoke," Berry said.
Ryan Berry and his daughter, Kalena, 5. Berry, his daughter and sister Amanda, are from Parkersburg and live in Colorado Springs. Their mother, Dianna Berry, lives in Parkersburg.
The Waldo Canyon fire outside of Colorado Springs doubled in size overnight. It is near Pikes Peak and the Air Force Academy and has caused the evacuation of more than 32,000 residents.
Berry and his daughter, Kalena, 5, are in the city and have not evacuated, although they have taken precautions to prevent smoke from entering their residence. He works for a cable communications company and his sister, Amanda, a 2000 graduate of Parkersburg South High School, is a registered nurse in Colorado Springs.
They moved to Colorado at the same time in 2006, their mother, Dianna Berry of Parkersburg, said. The kids are safe, but she's their mother and she worries despite they're grown adults.
"They're in my mind. They're in my sleep," Dianna Berry said. "They're still my babies."
The fires have reached the outskirts of town where several expensive homes have been consumed, Ryan Berry said. Occasionally while on the job with the WOW cable company, he can see the flames.
The smoke is ever present and has worsened over the last two days, he said.
"I had to leave work early yesterday, actually," Berry said.
Susan Schuchts of Parkersburg is helping her daughter Melissa and her granddaughters who are Kate, 3, and Claire, 11 months, move from Washington, D.C., to a new house in the Rockrimmon section of Colorado Springs. Melissa's husband, Justin Joffrion, is a major in the U.S. Air Force who will be teaching at the Air Force Academy after working at the Pentagon.
He drove to Colorado after his wife, daughters and mother-in-law arrived.
"Justin said he could see the smoke from the wildfires even before he reached Colorado," Schuchts said Wednesday.
Schuchts began seeing the flames and smoke in the nearby mountains at 4 p.m. Tuesday. The family decided to evacuate before the mandatory evacuation order was given, Schuchts said.
Traffic was bumper-to-bumper in fog-like conditions leaving the Colorado Springs neighborhoods, she said.
The family is staying with friends in the area. They could still see and smell the smoke from the wildfires from the friends' home, Schuchts said.
Schuchts is unsure when they will be able to return to the Rockrimmon house.