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Woman fleeing Colorado fire crashes car, starts Idaho fire

July 13, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • Flames from the Waldo Canyon fire cause the western side of Colorado Springs to glow as several structures burn.
Flames from the Waldo Canyon fire cause the western side of Colorado Springs… (Bryan Oller / Associated…)

Krista McCann would probably sympathize with the famed cartoon character Joe Btfsplk from "Li'l Abner." They both, it seems, get to cope with a jinx.

McCann, 19, was fleeing Colorado’s most destructive fire -- the Waldo Canyon fire -- when she lost control of her Subaru while trying to pass another vehicle on Interstate 84 between Boise and Mountain Home, Idaho. Her car went off the road and began burning -- starting another wildfire.

"I know I got out and I saw that the field was on fire and at that point I was just ... I was pretty devastated. I didn't want to do anything like that," she told KTVB-TV.

McCann told the TV station that she'd lived in Colorado Springs for a decade but had decided to leave because of the fire, which began burning June 23.

“I was afraid that something might happen, or the wind might change in Colorado and my house would be in danger again,” McCann said.

McCann told the television station that she decided to flee the fire and go to her father’s home in Oregon. She said she packed up her possessions, including her mother’s wedding dress, and left by car.

On Interstate 84, McCann said, she tried to pass another vehicle, when there was trouble.

“I just couldn't go straight anymore and I ended up clipping the car next to me,” she said.

The crash ignited a wildfire that burned about 2,000 acres. It was fully contained by Friday morning.

No injuries were reported from the accident, which officials blamed on mechanical failure. As for the Waldo Canyon fire, it was fully contained this week after burning more than 18,200 acres, killing two people and destroying about 350 houses.

Joe Btfsplk is a cartoon character created by Al Capp. The character is seen with a cloud over his head that follows him around. The character thus became the symbol of a jinx that couldn’t be shaken off.

Unlike Btfsplk, however, McCann sees a silver lining, even though she lost everything in her car except her purse.

“This is a chance to start completely over,” she said. “I have nothing. So I'll start with a new wardrobe and a new car, and a new state of mind. And I'll just move forward.”

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Join Michael on Google+. Email: michael.muskal@latimes.com

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