Galena Fire causes evacuations near Fort Collins, Colorado

Galena Fire 3-15-2013

Galena Fire, Friday night, 3-15-2013. Photo by @ashleytrailrun

UPDATE at 1:39 p.m. MT, March 18, 2013: Updated information, including an accurate map, can be found HERE.

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UPDATE at 3:30 p.m. MT, March 16, 2013:

Evacuations lifted — Larimer County officials distributed this information within the last hour:

All evacuations for the Galena fire will be lifted tonight at 8:00 p.m. Residents in the affected area will be allowed to return home at that time. No credentials will be needed. Those residents will remain on pre-evacuation status and should be prepared to leave if necessary.

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UPDATE at 11:50 a.m. MT, March 16, 2013:

The Galena fire west of Fort Collins, Colorado, now managed by a Type 3 incident management team, was fairly quiet overnight and did not have any significant movement. Larimer County authorities are estimating the size at 750 to 1,000 acres but have not accurately mapped the perimeter. The fire is partially confined by last summer’s 87,000-acre High Park Fire on the west and north sides and Horsetooth Reservoir on the east, but there is still potential for fire movement on the south side.  (map of High Park fire)

Mandatory evacuation notifications were sent yesterday for the area west of Horsetooth Reservoir and those evacuations remain in effect today. As of last night all residents of the Soldier Canyon Estates area were allowed back into their homes.

The weather forecast for the area predicts a 30 percent chance of precipitation on Saturday. As this is written, radar is detecting scattered showers east, west, and south of the fire. The relative humidity should bottom out in the mid-thirties today and the winds should be 5-10 mph gusting to 20 late in the afternoon. Sunday is a different story, however, with a forecast for 10-26 mph winds gusting to 40 with a 24 percent relative humidity.

Resources assigned to the fire today include one Type 2 helicopter, four hand crews, and an assortment of engines.

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Originally posted at 11 p.m. MT, March 15, 2013

The Galena Fire west of Fort Collins, Colorado forced some residents to evacuate as the fire burned near Horsetooth Reservoir and Charles A. Lory State Park on Friday. At 4:30 p.m. Larimer County officials estimated the fire had burned about 800 acres.

As of 8:40 p.m. the spread of the fire had slowed. Hand crews were actively working the north side of the fire and parts of the west flank. Engines were assigned to the south side near Inlet Bay.

Firefighters requested air tankers and helicopters but none were available except for one small helicopter, according to The Coloradoan, but strong winds on Friday may have made it difficult to operate any aircraft over the fire. The relative humidity in the area has been extremely low, with the maximum humidity early Friday morning only reaching up to 22 percent. Friday afternoon it got as low as 15 percent while the winds gusted in the mid-twenties.

Saturday’s weather will be more in favor of the firefighters, with a minimum relative humidity of 41 percent, moderate winds of three to seven mph, and a 30 percent chance of light rain.

Friday afternoon firefighters contained a second smaller fire near Eddy Lane in the community of LaPorte.

The map below shows the approximate location of the Galena fire west of Horsetooth Reservoir, and the smaller fire near LaPorte, north and west of Fort Collins. The red areas represent heat detected by a satellite.

Map of Galena Fire, 335 pm MT March 15, 2012

 

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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+

9 thoughts on “Galena Fire causes evacuations near Fort Collins, Colorado

  1. The fire is within about one-fourth of a mile east of the last June’s High Park fire. The High Park: 87,284 A, $38.4 million.

  2. I understand that a Colorado Senator (Steven King) is bring a bill forward this week to establish a State of Colorado air attack program like Cal Fire. Unfortunately Colorado is ten years behind the “power curve”. Whatever dude maybe it will rain.

  3. Colorado Senator Steven King will bringing a bill forward this week to establish a air attack program using Cal Fire as the model. Well aleast someone in Colorado is thinking fire.

    • Hey! Nothing against you, Johnny or anybody else. OK? I hold Colorado dear in my heart as I do all of the west.

      I really don’t see the efficacy of a state-funded air attack program in any way on par with CalFire in Colorado. Anything less and it’s a waste as well.

      CoFire? It’s a bunch of state monies for a little strip of Rocky Mountain west.

      Maybe some sort of agreement with the Feds where states share, to some degree, fiscal responsibility? Not just for Colorado but all of the west? More dedicated tanker bases that can be moth-balled and quickly re-activated any time of the year with government planes and employees rather than contracted “seasonal” bombers?

      The Front Range of Colorado NEVER burned when I lived there in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Of course, there was a whole lot more open/non-developed land back then. Colorado’s wildland/urban interface has grown exponentially as more and more “wannabees” seek their own “Rocky Mountain High” place, ranchers throw in the towel and sell, and realtors want to make money. Just follow the I-25 corridor through Colorado; tack on 30-40 miles or so westward (who wants to live eastward out on the plains?) and, it’s a com’n. Just like all of the development that has blighted the Front Range except now it’s incendiary de-development (De-Dev). Welcome to your new Rocky Mountain High…. when’s it gonna happen to me? Enjoy your “…raining fire in the sky.” Oh, and talk to God and listen to his reply.

  4. Thanks for the reality check L.R. The apathy toward wildfires in the West is our biggest enemy. “It won’t happen to me”. Not until the insurance companies and voters turn up the heat on those with the purse strings little if anything will be done. Second thought insurance companies don’t care, just “jack” the rates.

  5. If Colorado spent a proportional part of the state budget compared with Cal, it would have about 6 type2 tankers, 4 type2 helos and 3 active bases. Probably not enough but a fairly significant capability compared to the 2SEATS that will be contracted for this year.

    When I was born in Colorado, The total State population didnt exceed the Denver County population today. When I moved into the mountains in the 70’s, our fire protection district had about 60 volunteers. The population up here has tripled since then and we still have about 60 volunteers in the department. The mil levy for the fire district hasnt changed since 1970.

    You get what you pay for and Colorado has wanted fire fighting on the cheap for a long time. So we face another fire season with less snow pack, a larger population, no additional ground capability, ans less air capability.

    I vote for making the effort to develop a State air tanker capability … Something is better than nothing … Which is where we are now.

    • But Bean….

      Something does not cost nothing.

      For the most part, might you agree that the impact of significant wildfire is along the I-25 corridor westward? Most of privatized Colorado is contained within large tracts of USFS, BLM and BIA. Yes? So I question…..

      Why should Colorado’s population pay for an air attack program whose assets would mostly sit on the ground throughout the year except for, most likely, those potential Front Range conflagrations that don’t really chew up a lot of acrage but just threaten a lot of little fiefdoms? Oh. That’s right. The “I-25 corridor” is the bulk of Colorado’s population. As for the plains, would “CoFire ” make a difference of any import when places like Yuma in the NE gets a few 10’s of thousands of acres of stubble and grass torched?

      Or would such a state program actually support the Feds when the Feds are not to be found?

      I believe it is the “Great I-25 Megalopolis” that drives this need for a state-funded air program. Perhaps it should shoulder the tax burden.

  6. Yup, you’re right, something costs something. As mentioned, IF Colorado spent a proportional amount of its budget … Yes that means tax dollars. As for who pays, I would think that Colorado would continue to fund firefighting out of property taxes.
    Here’s a thought on who pays … everyone in the state pays for education with property taxes even though many don’t have school age children. Everyone could pay for firefighting for the same reason. Just depends on an individual’s philosophy of how much to help your neighbor. Given the costs of last year’s wildfires in the state, I’d bet an air program would have more than paid for itself.

    Yes, the significant “costly” wildfire will be in the I-25 corridor because that’s where the population lives. Lots of acreage burns out east too but less property is at risk. Still, its no reason not to try to save all property at risk regardless of location.

    Would the air attack assets be idle for most of the year? Maybe not. Fern Lake burned into the winter, Galena is burning now. The assets could also be available to neighboring States on a reimbursable basis.

    This program would not exist to support the Feds, it would exist because the Feds are probably not going to be found when needed.

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