Fire and brimstone



There’s no doubt that the college town of Boulder has grown all too familiar with fire, thanks in part to those young people — and there are some 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Colorado — who have a developed a strange tradition: They ignite couches in front yards or in the street. There’s been “a steady rise in flaming furniture,” reports the Boulder Daily Camera, with this year’s total at 22 so far. We’re guessing, though, that the smoke and fear generated by the recent Fourmile blaze, which destroyed 169 homes in the Boulder foothills and sent hundreds of families fleeing for their lives, will dampen the 20-somethings’ interest in watching sofas go up in flames. Meanwhile, the Fourmile Fire revealed a new twist in how future wildfires will be fought in Boulder’s canyons. For the last three years, a New Jersey-based company has been selling private fire insurance to homeowners in 14 Western states, including Colorado. The Camera says that for a considerable chunk of change, policyholders of Chubb Wildfire Defense Services can contract for their very own firefighters, who will dash to any (insured) inferno in a fully equipped truck. Each home gets personal attention, although Chubb’s success rate during the Fourmile Fire was less than 100 percent: The 13 firefighters who provided private fire protection saved a total of 10 homes, while three burned to the ground.


A droll short story by Las Vegas native Bliss Esposito is included in a recent book aptly titled Dead Neon: Tales of Near-Future Las Vegas. Here’s the opening to “Kirby and the Portal to Hell”: “When they discovered that the portal to Hell actually was in Las Vegas, no one in town really was all that surprised. ‘I mean,’ said a local in one newscast, ‘where else would it be? I just hope it doesn’t hurt the housing market too much.’ And in fact it didn’t. After years of a steadily declining economy, entire neighborhoods going into foreclosure, banks closing left and right, major casinos laying off anyone who wasn’t locked into a union, Hell was exactly what Las Vegas needed.” Editors Todd James Pierce and Jarret Keene dedicated Dead Neon to their children, “who with any luck will not inhabit a city of dark dreams.” The book is published by the University of Nevada Press, Reno.

High Country News Classifieds