At least five very large fires are currently active in the United States:
Gap in northern California,
Pioneer in central Idaho,
Maple in Yellowstone National Park,
Soberanes on the central coast of California, and,
Beaver Creek in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming.
Below we have progression maps of these fires (in that order).
We recently found out about a new website that has developed a very impressive mapping service for wildfires. It was the source of these maps. The site not only shows the locations, but in some cases for large fires it displays the perimeters — which can be animated to see the growth or progression of the fire over time. They have this information going back to 2003. It is on the EcoWest website and was created by a collaboration of the Sea to Snow company and the Bill Lance Center for the American West at Stanford University.
The perimeter data is dependant on what is made available by the agencies managing the fire, so there is not always a perimeter for every day.
You can minimize the Description box by clicking the down arrow at the top-right of the box.
Since the Beaver Creek Fire started on June 19, 2016 it has burned over 36,000 acres in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. It is being managed by the Atlanta National Incident Management Organization (NIMO). The team described their strategy:
This is a full suppression fire utilizing both ground and aerial assets. Firefighters are engaging the fire out of the timber in areas which give them the highest probability for success. This suppression strategy provides for both firefighter safety and the protection of life and property.
After almost two months, the team claims 44 percent of the perimeter has been contained. They expect full containment on October 21 (the year was not specified). It sounds like they may be stretching the definition of “full suppression”. So far they have spent $20,600,000 of taxpayers’ money.
Here is another photo from the fire. Found on InciWeb, it is undated and uncredited.
Firefighters are anticipating that it will take them until late October to contain the Beaver Creek fire, which is burning in one of the forests hardest hit by mountain pine beetle.
Tactics being used to contain the blaze have already emerged as a case study in how to suppress fire in an environment transfigured by thousands of dead trees.
Beetle-kill trees in the area thwarted firefighters’ attempts at a direct attack — downed trees made building a fireline difficult and gusts from helicopter rotors only caused more trees to fall, according to a lessons learned report published on July 27.
An indirect approach containing the fire became essential when initial attack crews felt radiant heat from flames a half a mile away:
Because of the extreme fire behavior exhibited early on in the Beaver Creek Fire, firefighters knew a direct attack would be both dangerous and ineffective…Firefighters removed fuels, wrapped buildings, laid hoses and sprinklers around the structures, and strategically burned out around buildings in advance of the fire.
The conditions in the Routt National Forest, along the Colorado-Wyoming border, also proved challenging to firefighter safety, according to a post from the incident management team on InciWeb.
The fire is burning in heavy beetle killed timber. The infested trees are subject to blowing over contributing large amounts of down timber and providing fuel for extreme fire behavior when strong winds and terrain features are in alignment, making the timbered areas unsafe for firefighters.
The fire, which started on June 19 in north-central Colorado, spread by several hundred acres during a hot, windy and humid day this week and forced firefighters to pull back to safety zones, The Denver Post reported.
As of July 29, the fire had burned 30,137 acres and is 12 percent contained.
Above: Varying burn intensities on the Beaver Creek Fire.
The spread of the Beaver Creek Fire in northern Colorado one mile south of the Wyoming border has slowed over the last week. It has been listed at 13,275 acres since June 30 and according to the incident commander is 5 percent conplete after burning for 18 days. The strategy is not to put it out, but to manage it for “multiple objectives”.
The fire is 17 miles northwest of Walden, Colorado and 52 miles southwest of Laramie, Wyoming.
Within the last 48 hours the fire received about 0.2 inches of rain but the fuels should dry out today, aided by a 9 mph southwest wind gusting up to 23 mph.
People who are extremely worried about forests attacked by beetles and assume fire intensity will be greatly enhanced in those areas, should examine the photo above that was taken within the fire area.
Jay Esperance’s Type 2 incident management team will transition to the West Slope Type 3 Team B on Thursday.
The photos were provided by the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland. Except as noted the photographer and dates taken were not given.
(Click here to see updated information on the Beaver Creek Fire as of July 6, 2016)
June 28, 2016
The Incident Management Team on the Beaver Creek Fire northwest of Walden, Colorado released this information today.
Consecutive days of low humidity and north by northwest winds greatly increased fire growth on the Beaver Creek Fire yesterday afternoon and through the night. Group torching and crowning continued into the early morning hours, a period when fires usually burn with less intensity.
The fire grew to 9114 acres with the fire edge expanding on the south and west. The north and east edge of the fire did not significantly grow yesterday.
Firefighters protected structures overnight, mopping up hot spots left behind after the fire passed.
The fire continues to move through heavy dead timber burning with high intensity. As the inversion moves out this morning fire activity will increase. Operations Section Trainee Chief Aaron Thompson briefed firefighters, “the fire is going to stand up and move. There is a lot of new fire edge but the mission remains the same, defend structures and build contingency line. Keep your heads up and keep safety a top priority.”
The fire located south of the Wyoming border and 15 miles northwest of Walden, Colorado and has spread onto wilderness lands.
Air attack began watching the fire this morning and ground crews will have helicopters available to them for cooling spot fires and hot spots.
Structure protection engines will again prepare by setting up sprinkler systems, removing fuel and defending structures threatened by the fire.
Dozers are working to build and improve on contingency fire lines.
Last night firefighters assisted with a civilian injury near a contingency fireline. Firefighters were able to use their “incident within an incident” protocol to assist with transporting the citizen to a hospital utilizing medical staff and equipment to communicate effectively with non-fire personnel.
All residential structures within and near the fire perimeter have been saved to date. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office will provide information to residence and cabin owners in the evacuation/closure area. To obtain a picture of their property, affected owners can call (970)723-4242 to make a formal request with the Sheriff.
Existing evacuation orders remain in place due to the hazardous conditions near the fire perimeter. Closures remain in place and specific information can be found at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4797/.
The cause of the Beaver Creek Fire remains under investigation. Anyone with information on suspicious activity should contact U.S. Forest Service Officer Hannah Nadeau, 307-343-2335.
Above: Beaver Creek Fire June 20, 2016. USFS photo by Alison Richards.
(Click here to see updated information on the Beaver Creek Fire as of July 6, 2016)
(UPDATE at 10:42 p.m. MDT June 22, 2016)
On Wednesday afternoon the Beaver Creek Fire northwest of Walden, Colorado was very active again, almost doubling in size to 7,000 acres. The fire spread further to the east, becoming well established on Independence Mountain.
The evacuation orders implemented on Tuesday are still in place.
The “Blue” Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team with Incident Commander Jay Esperance will assume command of the fire at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday.
(Originally published at 2:48 p.m. MDT June 22, 2016)
In the four days that the Beaver Creek Fire has been burning 20 miles northwest of Walden, Colorado it has grown to 3,800 acres. Most of those acres were accumulated on Tuesday.
A wind shift on Tuesday afternoon drove the fire to the east, pushing it across two main roads and establishing spot fires on BLM-managed Independence Mountain. The majority of the Beaver Creek Fire remains on the Routt National Forest in northwest Jackson County, Colo about 1 mile south of the Wyoming border.
Local fire staff were working late Tuesday with Jackson County and the BLM to evacuate dispersed campers on Independence Mountain.
(Click on the images below to see larger versions.)
The weather on Wednesday and Thursday will be moderate, but will become more problematic on Friday and Saturday with humidities around 20 percent, 10 mph southwest or west winds gusting up to 17 mph, and a chance of thunderstorms.