'It's Not What Happens To You In Life That Counts, But How You Handle It'

Jun 27, 2017

Polly Dunn moved to the Mountain Shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs after retiring from her job as a teacher in District 11. She lived there for several years before the Waldo Canyon Fire took her home in 2012. 

"It was a surreal experience," she recalls. 

Dunn and her husband were placed under pre-evacuation on Saturday, June 23rd. They gathered some important papers and a few irreplaceable items, but not many.

"I never did think it would really happen," she remembers, "I did not think that the fire would come [into Mountain Shadows]."

That changed on Tuesday, June 26th, when weather conditions pushed the fire rapidly into the neighborhood, claiming Dunn's home along with 345 others. 

A book of family recipes, given as a gift to Polly Dunn by her members of her family after the fire.
Credit Polly Dunn

Dunn says she's "not a super sentimental person, which is probably a good thing in a case like this." However, of all the things she lost in the fire, she says she was sorriest to lose her recipe book, which was filled with handwritten recipes from friends and relatives accumulated over many years. After the fire, her family published a new recipe book (pictured, right) to replace the one she'd lost. 

Five years later, Dunn says the fire still feels like it was yesterday.

She has since moved into a new home in Mountain Shadows, and says the whole experience has made her more grateful for the things she has. 

Listen to Polly Dunn's story in the player above.

This story comes from 91.5 KRCC's special series, "Five Years Later: Remembering the Waldo Canyon Fire." Find more stories from those affected by the fire here.