Watching Colorado Unite on Social Media During the #BoulderFire
The continuously blurring lines between traditional and social media have never been more apparent to me than this past Monday (Labor Day) around noon MT. I was killing time at home between errands and decided to check my Twitter feed. Countless tweets tagged with #BoulderFire caught my eye and it became clear that a dangerous and destructive wildfire had broken out in the foothills.
The “traditional” side of me quickly turned on the television and I began furiously flipping through the local stations to find out more details. What did I find? Nothing. I couldn’t find a single station that had broken through the horrendous Monday afternoon television choices to report live from Boulder. So, the social media geek in me settled in on the couch, iPhone in hand, and read what seemed like hundreds of #BoulderFire tweets.
Information poured across my HootSuite dashboard faster than I could refresh the stream—evacuation details, TwitPic and YFrog images of the smoke and flames, animal rescue instructions, and Mile High Red Cross shelter announcements for evacuees. A few local Denver TV stations did seem to take notice of the social media groundswell regarding the fire and began retweeting first-hand accounts and important instructions. However, virtually witnessing the local and regional support from every day citizens was a powerful and exciting experience for me personally. Twitter was uniting Boulder and surrounding counties in real-time to come to the aid of those impacted.
Since Monday I’ve been monitoring the fires almost exclusively on Twitter. Some of my favorite updates include:
@alicia4181: I only know of the boulder fire because of twitter
@5280PRGal: Why do hurricanes get huge media coverage, yet I haven’t seen much mention of the #boulderfire on @cnn @foxnews
@HumaneBoulder: For help w/pets 2nite call Dispatch 303-441-3333 Pets will be housed either here or transported by officer to @LongmontHumane #boulderfire
@jasper9: Is there a list of businesses offering assistance for #boulderfire anywhere? if not, lets get a public google doc going
@MelindaJordan: RT @lostremote: Twitter is playing a key role in #boulderfire, from evacuation alerts to independent reporting. http://bit.ly/9Xo9KG
@laurasrecipes: Just feeling so proud of this community…in awe of generosity, high tech information flow and amazing joining together…#BoulderFire
My prayers go out to everyone affected by this fire and I urge our local social media community to continue this virtual newsgathering and support system long after the TV trucks move to the next big story. If you know of any ways that @GroundFloorPR can help, please let us know. We would also appreciate your help in spreading the word about a fantastic effort by the Colorado Fall Home Show (@cogardenshowinc) to help with fire relief efforts. The Colorado Fall Home Show (presented by Colorado Garden Show Inc.), running this weekend (Sept. 10 – 12) at the Colorado Convention Center, announced it will donate $2.00 of every ticket sale to the Colorado Red Cross to help with relief efforts for the wildfire near Boulder. Thanks for your help!
~Alexis Anzalone (aka @aanzalone)