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Pig named ‘Kevin Bacon’ and his family among hundreds evacuated because of a Colorado wildfire

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 8:58 PM MDT
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GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - The East Troublesome Fire is burning more than 100 miles away from Colorado Springs. However, the images of the mountains on fire and a line of cars trying to get out of town are all too familiar for many living in Olympic City, USA.

The Waldo Canyon Fire devastated Colorado Springs nearly a decade ago in 2012 and the Black Forest Fire the following year was both deadly and detrimental to El Paso County. The two fires left a trail of destruction behind and communities have been rebuilding since. But with each wildfire in Colorado, people come together from across the Centennial State to help each other. There’s a reason 11 News wants to show the people of southern Colorado first-hand what firefighters and the mountain communities impacted by the East Troublesome Fire are up against.

The East Troublesome Fire was reported on Oct. 14 near Granby, but it wasn’t until Wednesday of this week when it exploded in size. As of Friday night, it is the second-largest wildfire in Colorado history at an estimated 188,000 acres, threatening business buildings and forcing hundreds from their homes. The blaze even prompted evacuations from a Colorado gem, Rocky Mountain National Park. While video of the fire is both tragic and even sometimes as the sun sets eerily beautiful, telling the stories of the people impacted is why 11 News decided to send reporters to cover the fire that is now gaining national attention.

A PIG NAMED KEVIN BACON

11 News Reporter Spencer Wilson spent the first four hours of his work shift in the car on Thursday. The drive to Grand County from Colorado Springs gave him plenty of time to plan how he was going to present a story for 11 News at 10. But with all of Spencer’s stories, his plan doesn’t matter as much as the people he’s putting in his stories. The Colorado native is experienced in the field of TV News, having covered shootings, protests, horrific crashes, blizzards and speaking exclusively on camera with a woman accused of killing her own stepson. The talented journalist is an even more amazing storyteller.

As Spencer was driving through the streets of a town that was being evacuated, he saw dozens of people who were forced to pack up and leave everything else behind. One of the hardest parts of being a journalist is you’re typically trying to approach someone for an interview on what is likely one of the hardest days of their life. Surprisingly, with our experience in covering wildfires, many people are willing to talk. People want to share what they are going through, they want to thank the firefighters and community members working to protect homes and the beautiful Colorado landscape. Often times it is easy to strike up a conversation and get someone to talk about their evacuation efforts. However, the interviews usually end in a somber or emotional tone when people get away from the camera and reality sets in again. We choose to speak to these people because we want others to know what they’re going through and how their lives are being turned upside down.

As Spencer was keeping an eye on the smoke pillar in the distance, he spotted Kevin Bacon. Not the actor. A pig. For a second, Spencer’s mind was taken off the story and he knew he just had to meet this pig and his family. That’s when he started talking with Christy Helming.

“Yeah that was the scariest thing," Helming explained as she was evacuating. "Calling my kids, calling my sisters and making sure everyone got out calling my neighbors. They’re crying, trying to make sure that your friends and family are all headed out and it was overwhelming.”

Christy agreed to an on-camera interview with Spencer, explaining what mattered to her most.

" My family and my pig," Christy stated. “Those were my main things.”

Spencer started a conversation with a complete stranger. A person he picked out of hundreds because of her animal companion. A pig was the reason Spencer worked to share Christy’s story. A woman who was trying her hardest to stay positive as her home town was in danger.

“We’re just going to pretend we’re on vacation for a while," Christy added.

Christy is just one of so many people who are playing the waiting game as the fire continues to burn. Spencer used what she had to say to show the thousands of people who watch 11 News what it’s like right now in a community so far away. A community that is still part of Colorado. Our viewers had a chance to meet a pig named Kevin Bacon, and his owner Christy. We all had a chance to meet a fellow Coloradan going through one of the hardest days of her life. It is stories like this that put what so many people in our state are going through into perspective.

Spencer’s day didn’t end there. It isn’t as simple as getting an interview and calling it quits. He was working on a strict deadline, by himself, in a town more than a hundred miles away from his co-workers. He had to be aware of his surroundings, and ready to leave himself if the danger got too close. He had to compile the hours of video he shot and edit together a story that was less than two minutes. He had to share the story of hundreds through the voice of one woman with a pig. He had to do it on live TV, with a fire burning in the background. He had to drive another two or three hours just to sleep, wake up, and tell a new story the next day. An even harder story to share. On Friday, Spencer met a man who believed his grandparents were killed by that same fire. On Friday, Spencer once again shared a story that was hard to tell with thousands of people.

You can watch the story Spencer put together on Christy and Kevin Bacon at the top of this article.

If you want to help those impacted by wildfires across the state, not just the East Troublesome Fire, you can click here.

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