Fire west of Fort Collins causing evacuations

High Park fire, markholbrook cam, 229, June 9, 2012

(On June 11 we posted an update on the High Park fire which you can see HERE.)


UPDATE at 7:39 a.m. MT, June 10, 2012:

We have an updated map of the High Park Fire HERE.


UPDATE  at 8:32 p.m. MT, June 9, 2012:

The High Park fire west of Fort Collins Colorado has burned or damaged at least 10 structures and approximately 5,000 acres. Many residents have been evacuated and 800 pre-evacuation notifications were sent out within the last few hours when the fire, burning from west to east, crossed County Road 27 south of the Stove Prairie School.

A Type 2 Incident Management team is responding and a Type 1 IMTeam was ordered late this afternoon.

Firefighters are worried about communication equipment and radio repeaters out ahead of the fire on Buckhorn Mountain. If the equipment there burns, it could have a negative effect on the radio communications on the fire. They were hoping to get some air tankers to drop some long term retardant around the site before dark, but it is unknown if they were able to get that done. There are three heavy air tankers working the fire, two CV 580s and one P2V.

A cold front is going to pass through the fire area after midnight bringing even stronger winds which will challenge firefighters. The winds will shift from west-southwest to west-northwest and blow with intensity after midnight and on Sunday. But the temperatures will be 15 to 20 degrees cooler on Sunday.

The local fire and law enforcement personnel are doing a great job of providing information to the public about the fire and evacuations:

Since these agencies have stepped up to the plate in such an outstanding manner, we will cut back on our coverage, and only post information that we don’t see covered elsewhere.

Scroll down to see maps of the High Park fire.


UPDATE at 5:09 p.m. MT, June 9, 2012: Satellite view of the High Point fire.

Satellite map of High Park fire, 4:31 p.m., June 9, 2012
Satellite map of High Park fire, 4:31 p.m., June 9, 2012

We posted some photos of the air tankers that are at the Rocky Mountain Metro Airport, which is the retardant reload base for the fire, 48 miles away.


UPDATE at 3:53 p.m. June 9, 2012: The Larimer County Sheriff’s office is estimating the size of the fire at 2,000 to 3,000 acres.

High Park fire, aerial video capture from CBS, 3:28 p.m. MT, June 9, 2012
High Park fire, aerial video capture from CBS, 3:28 p.m. MT, June 9, 2012


UPDATED at 3:06 p.m., June 9, 2012 (updated map and estimated size)

2:40 p.m. MT, June 6, 2012

High Park fire, markholbrook cam, 229, June 9, 2012
High Park fire, as seen from markholbrook's cam, 2:29 p.m., June 9, 2012

A fast moving fire 14 miles west of Fort Collins, Colorado is forcing some residents to evacuate. The High Park Fire was first reported at 5:54 a.m. and the last official size estimate that was released had it at 200 acres. However, with my very rough estimates using the satellite detections of heat, it appears to be over 2,300 acres.

In listening to the radio traffic, an on-scene officer at 2:32 p.m. said the fire was “really running in the crowns” and it was moving to the northeast.

The Denver CBS TV station occasionally has live video of the fire.

The photo above was captured from this web cam at 2:29. On the image you can see the weather conditions, which was 95 degrees, 6 percent RH, and a wind speed of 2 with gusts up to 30.

Below is a map of the fire, showing heat detected by satellites at 1:42 MT today.

Map of High Park Fire 1:42 p.m. MT, June 9, 2012
Map of High Park Fire 1:42 p.m. MT, June 9, 2012

The Larimer County Sheriff Office web site lists some of the areas that are being evacuated.

The Rocky Mountain Coordination Center announced at about 1:30 p.m. today that their Type 2 Incident Management Team A is en route with an expected arrival time approximately 23 hours later, at noon on Sunday. This seems like a long response time for a team that is local to the geographic area. The Larimer County Sheriff web site reported at 2:30 p.m. that the IMTeam would assume command at noon on Sunday.

Some of the aerial resources include: 5 Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT) on scene or ordered; 2 Type 1 Helicopters; 2 Type 3 Helicopters; 2 Heavy Air Tankers and 2 more ordered; Air Attack; and a Lead Plane.

We will update this article with new information as it develops.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

9 thoughts on “Fire west of Fort Collins causing evacuations”

  1. At the moment has a live stream of the fire. You can watch the tankers and type 1s drop.

  2. Just flew over it about an hour ago heading into Denver. To my fellow firefighters and public safety workers out there today, stay safe.

  3. The fire was reported at 0554 hours? Correct me if I’m wrong, was there a delay in sending fixed-wing tankers? Are we getting accoustom to aircraft on order, or wait, maybe it will go out. Fixed wing tankers as mentioned numerous times are most effective within the first few minutes of a fire starting. The new (few) turbine powered aircraft have wheels-up time of about five minutes. The Conair tankers at JEFFCO should have been on this fire within twenty,(yes twenty minutes). Until there is a change in initial attack attitude the value of fixed wing tankers will continue to be compromised. Six decades into aerial delivery of chemicals on wildfires and still missing the point. Know wonder there is no urgency in obtaining a plan. Fires start and get Big!

    1. Johnny – as I read your post, the fire was discovered at 0554, as in 5:54 AM in the early morning? Then you question why an A/T wasn’t wheels up within 5 minutes? Most A/T duty days start at about 0900 (9:00 AM) or so because of pilot duty day restrictions and cumulative fatigue concerns. I believe it is unreasonable to have aircraft on standby at that hour of the morning unless you have double-crewed that machine. I’ve never seen A/Ts double-crewed, just the T-1 Helitankers. 5:54 AM is not the time that you should normally expect an IA fire to take off running.

  4. I wonder if we could get a couple of DC-10 firefighting aircraft working on the fire line, since they do exist?

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