DURANGO, Colo. – A couple whose wedding had to be moved because of the fast-growing 416 Fire in southwestern Colorado now has a breathtaking photo to remember the day by.
Sara and Michael Kramer of Fort Collins were set to tie the knot at Cascade Village north of Durango on Saturday but as the fire grew significantly, they moved the ceremony to a relative’s property at the last minute.
Toward the end of the evening, at sunset, the couple went across the street to get a photo with the fire in the background. The result is a shot of Michael and Sara kissing in front of the ominous, orange plume of smoke from the fire.
"It's crazy how something so devastating and so scary and so dangerous can be so beautiful from a distance,” photographer Alexi Hubbell said.
The Kramers said they were disappointed they had to move the wedding but ultimately, they're more concerned about people who have had to evacuate their homes. One of Michael's uncles, who himself had to leave home because of the fire, is on the local search and rescue team and was monitoring the situation on his radio during the ceremony.
"He was in his search and rescue gear with a blazer over the top and they still showed up and they were ready to rock and roll and help out and do everything they could," Michael Kramer said. "He had to step out to take a radio call in the middle."
"I had no idea they had gotten evacuated," Sara Kramer said. “Our heart is really with this community, we’re definitely thinking of all the people that had to evacuate, thinking of the firefighters fighting this fire and keeping the community safe.”
In an Instagram post, the bride thanked the hundreds of firefighters who are working to get the fire under control.
We are in absolute awe of our friends, family, photographer, and vendors who made this incredible wedding come to life. The 416 fire forced us to change venues last minute and it was a little hectic. Thank you to the firefighters working hard to keep the Durango community safe, we are so grateful. What an unbelievable weekend. @alexihubbellphotography #durango #416fire #durangowedding
Hubbell said she hopes the couple will be able to look at the photo in the future and reflect on the bond they share.
“Well I hope that anytime they have a struggle in their relationship, they go ahead and look at that photo in their wedding album and go, 'So we got through that,'” Hubbell said. "There was a giant forest fire behind us and we survived, so we can survive anything.”
As of Monday afternoon, the 416 Fire was estimated to be more than 22,000 acres in size. The fire remains 10 percent contained.