High Park fire update and map, June 10, 2012 — very active Saturday night

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

Map of High Park Fire 3:20 a.m. MT, June 10, 2012. MODIS/Google Earth/Wildfire Today

Map of High Park Fire at 3:20 a.m. MT, June 10, 2012, showing heat detected by satellites. MODIS/Google Earth/Wildfire Today

The High Park fire northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado was very active Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Judging from the heat data collected by satellites as shown in the map above, it moved north across Highway 14 and hit the Hewlett fire that burned north of the highway in mid-May. The heat data indicates that it spread east to within approximately a mile of N CO Rd 25E and approximately a mile from the intersection of highways 14 and 287, but these are very crude estimates. And another estimate — the fire appears to us to be more than 20,000 acres if the satellite heat data is accurate. All of this needs to be confirmed by better data than we are getting from a satellite.

A more detailed version of the map of the High Park fire can be downloaded HERE.

To say the fire exhibited extreme fire behavior overnight would not be giving the fire enough credit. Several very experienced firefighters have said the fire’s spread and behavior Saturday night and early Sunday were incredible. Typically a fire will lay down at night, moving much more slowly, but as a cold front passed through the area during the night the winds increased and shifted 45 degrees in direction, WSW to WNW. When the fire was mapped at 10:30 p.m. Saturday night by an infrared aircraft it was 7,400 acres. The MODIS satellite data shown in the map above captured the location of the heat at 3:20 a.m., and unless it was registering the heat in the smoke plume in addition to heat on the ground (which has happened in the past with infrared equipment on fixed wing aircraft when a fire was exhibiting extreme fire behavior), the fire more than doubled in size during that 5-hour period and ran approximately 6 miles. It will be very interesting to see a new fire perimeter after aircraft map it today with GPS equipment.

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

The video below is from Saturday, but it has rare footage of a CV-580 air tanker making a drop in the lower 48 states.

High Park Fire as seen from Tie Siding WY June 9, 2012

High Park Fire as seen from Tie Siding, WY June 9, 2012. Photo by Wayne Karberg

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of WildfireToday.com and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

21 thoughts on “High Park fire update and map, June 10, 2012 — very active Saturday night

  1. “WSW to SNW”

    Say, what direction is South North West anyway? Every direction but the direction that the fire is heading?

    Perhaps this fire is God’s revenge for Ft Collins refusing to enforce dog-barking laws and causing a huge problem because of their lack of action?

    Last year both Arizona and New Mexico had their largest forest fires ever despite modern wildfire fighting techniques, and this year New Mexico has already had a wildfire almost twice the size of last year’s record fire too.

    Not only that, but a recently released major scientific finding has found that our current Spring is the warmest Spring on record, with average high temperatures from March to May 5.2 degrees F warmer than the 100-year average from 1901-2000 too.

    phys.org/news/2012-06-us-spring-warming-off-the.html

    I surely hope that the missing residents are found alive and that the damage can be kept to a minimum too.

    • What do dogs barking have to do with fire? Perhaps dogs annoy you as “God’s” revenge for something horrible you did in your past. I’m really glad we have to you to point out typos and tell us a bunch of stuff we already know!

  2. I truly feel sorry for the folks that have and will loose their homes, pets and livestock. Those guys, the animals are at our mercy unfortunately.
    Like my father once said, “don’t mess with the virtually random nature of our universe, it will get you in the end”. Fire tends to be something that feeds on things randomly and appears to not be our friends. Without fire the land would be very sick. Perhaps this is nature’s way of cleaning things up for the future.

  3. I will be watching your blog, I work for a large insurance company and in the past year we had invoked special requirements dictating eligibility for homes in Colorado that we thought would be at high risk based on a ‘wild fire score’ proved by an outside vendor. Some homes were just out right denied coverages, others had to show they met special wildfire mitigation practices. I like the maps, it makes it easier to see where as our company just posts broad zip code restrictions.

      • Why? Because we expect you to keep your home safe so it doesn’t burn to the ground so we don’t have catastrophic pay-outs in order to keep premiums low for everyone? Or, perhaps, you just like going in to your agent and complaining about the rate increases your company had to take. Insurance spreads the risk across the group as a whole and the hope is that there will not be too many claims. Are you hating insurance companies because we aren’t non-profit? You’re welcome to self-insure and not pay premiums and cover the cost to rebuild the home yourself if you can afford it. :)

  4. ^^^^^

    Well there you…thanks for that update…being a former Firewise type..my presentations included the fact(s) that eventually folks punching homes into there little piece of “nature” could become the interest of insurance companies after large or small scale fire events…..

    Call it what you will….this is happening on the West Coast in a few communities.

    Now what yet remains to be seen, if government can convince smaller communities into the Firewise belief(s) and the associated costs of tree and brush removal mitigation.

    This obviously being a public site should draw additional attention to the land management agencies who say they are “doing everything possible” at the same time falling prey to all the NIMBY’s who think that 100-200 yr old Pondo pine in CO are fine to see every morning…they are and they are great. Some are even great when seen through selective thinning!!!

    Til you see large crown fires and fast mover flame fronts……then everyone is interested including the insurance companies and the folks like me who pushed FIREWISE and even were eyeballed as the enemy just because we represented LMA’s and were providing what little resource we could to communities who did see the validity through my presentations and THROUGH the fact I represented an LMA.

    • Call me simplistic, but as far as an insurance perspective I have the hardest time with the homes in a Pine forest. Maybe my botany is limited, but I thought I saw once on a National Geographic type episode that Pine forests propagate naturally via forest fire, that the cone pods remain closed for some species until a fire passes through in order for the cones to break open and the seeds to then go into the ground. So, basically, building a home in a pine forest is counter intuitive since Nature (or God) has designed that forest to work in conjuncture with wild fire.

      • @mhorrioghain33
        I hope you’re not doing risk assessments on your policy owners. You saw something on National Geographic about pine forests? Wow. What exactly is your job in the insurance industry?

        Nice avatar, btw.

        • @Kelly. Yes, I do risk assessment on policy holders. Do I use one episode I saw 20 + years ago on National Geographic (or something like that) as my only resource? Of course not, we’re not stupid. Most of our information comes from an independent company + information provided to us by FEMA about wildfires and their recommendations to HELP prevent losses. As the gentleman said above in another post. Little can be done in those areas, but some measures can be taken to help reduce the risk or the overall damage where the subdivisions push up against the forests. However, these singular homes or ‘large lots’ as I call them that have 2-3 acres a piece between homes are much more difficult to protect and usually do not have much in the way of brush/forest clearance cut back between their homes and the native fuels in the area.

          http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=3646

          • What a crazy concept: Insurance companies are in business to make money?? Next thing you know, they’ll be setting life insurrance rates based on your age and occupation, charging young males and folks with DUI’s more for car insurance, giving discounts for strustures that are sprinklered, and yes, charging folks that live in the WUI more for home insurance. May we should just forget age, weight, life-style choices like smoking, types of vehicles (wanna se how fast my red ‘Vette can go?) and just charge everyone a flat rate? Where does individual responsibility and accountability enter the picture? You make a choice to live in the WUI as opposed to an Urban Condo, you pay a higher price; you live in a California earthquake fault zone as opposed to Iowa, you pay more. Ain’t free enterprise great?

  5. Hi, Thank you for the infrared satellite imagery you provided. I would love to see another one tomorrow morning, if possible. My best friends’ home is on Wilderness Ridge Way and we are trying to get an idea as to how close this fire has come to their home, if it hasn’t already. Thank you.

  6. Gee TruckerMark, you seem so concerned for the safety of people… (yes, that is sarcasm). The fire hasn’t even touched Fort Collins and you are pretty much damning the people of Fort Collins over a stupid dog law? Perhaps you should change the “Tr” in your name to an “F”…

    To the firefighters and all the people involved, please stay safe.

  7. Yes, I would agree that Trucker Mark’s comments were in poor taste and lacking compassion for human suffering. However, he did throw in a sentence at the end, perhaps to balance out his delight over what he interpreted as God’s wrath for a lack of dog-leash laws in Fort Collins. Let us pray that his own dog never bark or his truck not exhaust too many fumes as he may later be struck by lightning at the Universe’s discretion.

  8. This Ft. Collins fire is but a small fire when compared to the conflagration -in-waiting in the central mountains of Colorado. Millions upon millions of pine beetle killed trees await the first dry lighting storm of late June or July. Small businessmen have been asking to log off the trees, who keeps holding up the fuel removal process? I hope the mountain towns take notice and cut a wide defensible perimeter around their communities. Why don’t we have a national fleet of super sucker tankers like they have in Canada? Horsetooth is such a long pond, it could provide a tremendous boost to fire fighters trying to keep the fire out of Ft. Collins. One place we could stand to take notice is how the Canadian’s fight fire. How about a use-tax on skiers and other mountain terrain users just for the air tankers. I’d give a few bucks every hunting license I purchase for such a cause.

  9. Natural fires cannot be easily detected nor defended against. However the amount of fuel available to burn can be significantly minimized, I have spent most of my 46 years living in three of the mountain states including Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and have to say Colorado appears to be the worst at managing its forested areas. It seems that there is a total disregard for the amount of deadfall found beneath the existing canopy and little is done to establish or maintain man-made fire defenses. This is probably due to the overly prevelent Colorado attitude of don’t touch the forest, leave it alone, it will to manage itself. Which is fine, but when it starts destroying homes and personal properties then these same people jump to the other side of the fence and starts pointing fingers at the failure of the state government for not having fire mitigation plans for fighting fires of this magnitude. They can’t have it both ways!
    Seems to me there could be thousands of summer jobs created from programs established for the clearing of deadfall, creating fire breaks and managing our forested areas?
    But instead let’s just keep spend our money on bike paths and green areas within our city limits, we need more doggie-doo plastic bag dispensers dontcha know!
    When I was a kid growing up in Idaho me and a couple buddies would spend our entire summers taking an old two-ton truck into the hills and cut deadfall for fire wood to sell for profit. $90.00 bucks a cord, cut & stacked. I don’t know how hard it is to get a timber permit in Colorado but from what I’ve seen there is a fortune waiting out there for some hard working young men.

  10. There are wood ordinances in many of the mid-west states. It is illegal to remove many types, if not all types, of wood from Colorado for a fact, and a couple other states I am not as positive about. It is because of the “War on Beetles”. Which is no longer only a midwest problem, or only a conifer problem. Search for, Ten thousand Cankers Black Walnut. It is a beetle that crossed the whole Great Plains because some numnut thought a piece of wood was pretty. There is a multi-billion dollar industry of black walnut in the south-east, and consequences will be dire. First finding was in late spring 2011.

  11. Why did it take long to get the C-130 crews out of Cheyenne to help? Not like we are far away.

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