The above map of the Crystal fire, 10-15 miles west of Fort Collins, Colorado, shows heat detected by satellites at noon today, April 4. The heat map is in an odd pattern – two areas of heat separated by about 4 miles.
Aircraft are working the fire as this is written at 5:00 p.m. MT on April 4. In listening to the radio traffic, we heard that some of the inbound aircraft are telling the tanker base that they are on orders to “load and return”.
InciWeb reports the fire is 5% contained and it has burned 4,500 acres and “at least 15 homes”. The Incident Status Summary and the National Situation Report both say 6,000 acres and 15 homes have burned. Larimer County at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday reported 4,500 acres and 15 homes. At 5:00 p.m. on Monday they still said 15 homes have burned, but said an updated acreage would be available Tuesday morning. They all agree that evacuations have been lifted for residents with identification.
Here is an excerpt from the Incident Status Summary, which was prepared at 5:00 p.m. April 3:
Significant Events: Recon and size-up fire area. Initiate control actions. Evacuations for residences expected to be lifted tonight at 2000 tonight.
Remarks: Rocky Mountain Area IMT1 (Summerfelt) has been ordered and expected to arrive this evening.
Observed Fire Behavior: Fire Made a Significant Run last night (20 acres to 6,000 acres). Cold Front brought rain and snow to the area today at 1000. Smoldering and creeping after weather event.
Planned Actions: Patrol, Consruct Line and Mop-Up.
We will have to assume that Sunday morning’s snow must not have amounted to much, even though it shut down the aircraft and caused most of the engines to be demobed, according to radio traffic overheard. The weather at 4:57 p.m. on Monday at the nearby Redstone weather station was 51 degrees, 13% relative humidity, wind at 8 gusting to 22, and a 10-hour time lag fuel moisture of 10%.
UPDATE at 7:00 p.m., M.T., April 4, 2011:
The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for Tuesday, from noon until 8:00 p.m. for west winds of 15 to 25 with gusts up to 40 mph. The relative humidity will be 13 to 17 percent. This is not good news for firefighters and property owners.
The Type 3 Incident Management Team transitioned to the Type 1 IMTeam at about 7 p.m.
UPDATE at 11:00 p.m., MT, April 4, 2011:
The Incident Status Summary has been updated (April 4 at 5:15 MT) and state the size of the fire is 3,200 acres (InciWeb agrees), 15 primary structures have burned, and it is 15% contained. It also has the following information:
Significant Events: Continued to construct line and mop up edges where possible. IMT1 (Summerfelt) arrived and began transition. IMT1 to assume command at 1900 hrs today.
Remarks: Red Flag Warning in Effect from 1200 until 2000 for Tuesday (Gusty Winds and Low RH) – this includes the area of the Crystal Fire.
Observed Fire Behavior: Smoldering & creeping.
Planned Actions: Continue construct line and secure line.