The Pollicks, who live at the top of Brook Forest Drive, got a precious 10th wedding anniversary gift on June 3: Firefighters saved their house.
The Pollick home is the structure seen in numerous photos of the Bluebell Fire, which burned 10 acres west of Evergreen in early June. The house is where firefighters made their stand.
Evergreen Fire Chief Mike Weege has said that if the home — owned by David Pollick and Karen Bentley Pollick — had burned, other houses in the area might have been lost as well.
David designed the 3,300-square-foot, two-bedroom home, and construction was completed in 2011. The couple use every room in the house, including a conservatory for Karen to practice and record music. She is a concert violinist.
David designed the house so none of the boulders on the property would have to be moved, and he wanted every window to provide a portrait of their land.
They lived in the house part-time until David could retire from his position as president of Birmingham Southern University in Birmingham, Ala.
The Pollicks were in Birmingham when the Bluebell Fire started, completing the sale of the house they had lived in for the past six years. Most of their personal belongings were still in Alabama.
David said that, compared with families who have lost everything in other fires in Colorado, he and Karen experienced different emotions.
“We did not have the emotional attachment that other families have had (when they lost their homes),” David said. “It’s hard for us to get animated about it when others have lost everything that is personal to them.”
Karen thinks of the fire, which occurred just days after she had been hiking through a rainforest in Australia, as a yin-and-yang moment, juxtaposing the water with the flames.
Sitting on the deck and looking out on the picturesque valley north of their home, you wouldn’t know that the wildfire ever occurred. But walk 10 feet out onto an outcropping, and you see blackened bark on the trunk of what David calls his favorite tree. That’s how close the fire came to the house.
Look straight down, and all you see is blackened lodgepole pines. The black sticks surround their home in a crescent shape. The couple own 30 acres, 17 of them surrounding the house, with the remaining 13 acres pretty much scorched.
The only thing the couple lost was the cover to their grill, which had burn marks from embers.
As to why the house was saved, David credits nature for the rock underneath the house, the fire mitigation they did on their property, and the 140 firefighters from numerous departments who valiantly fought the flames.
They watched the news coverage of the Bluebell Fire on their cell phones, calling it a surreal experience. They made calls to neighbors in the hope of salvaging a few things from the house, including some of Karen’s violins.
When they returned to Evergreen on June 6, their 10th wedding anniversary, with two large trucks filled with their belongings, they found their home and cars covered in red slurry, but everything else was intact. David said he was told that 20,000 gallons of water had been dumped on the house.
“The firefighters did an incredible job,” David said.
In a way, David said, the long, winding driveway helped the firefighters because it provided access to the steep terrain where the wildfire burned.
The couple are curious to find out if any vegetation lived through the fire, and they’ll get the answer in the next year. In the meantime, Evergreen’s American Legion Post 2001 has asked if it can help with cleaning up the burned trees.
“I’m touched by that,” David said.