Shooters cause 250-acre fire in Colorado

The U.S. Forest Service has determined that a 250-acre fire in the Pike National Forest was caused by shooting. The Snyder Creek 2 fire was first reported Sunday afternoon three miles southeast of Kenosha Pass near Park County Road 56 approximately 19 miles North of Fairplay. There was a fire in the same area in 2011.

Firefighters battled 20 to 30 mph winds on Sunday, but expect full containment by Monday evening.

Snyder Creek 2 fire

Photo of the Snyder Creek Fire, by Park County Sheriff’s Office.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Rick and Bean.


Colorado man’s controlled burn triggers evacuations

A southern Colorado man was cited on Saturday for arson, after a possible private controlled burn got out of control on the grassy plains east of Colorado Springs.

The small fire near Ellicott prompted evacuations in the communities of Ellicott and Peyton — at first evacuations were mandatory, until firefighters started to contain the burn and evacuation orders were relaxed to voluntary.

The fire sparked around 5:30 p.m. and spread to 150 acres in less than two hours, KOAA news in Colorado Springs reported.  The blaze was quickly contained by 7 p.m., and the homeowner who allegedly started the fire cited with fourth-degree arson, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Colorado Springs is home to the state’s most destructive fires. In 2012, the Waldo Canyon fire burned more than 18,000 acres, destroyed 347 homes in Colorado Springs and killed two people. Almost exactly a year later, the Black Forest fire ignited east of Colorado Springs, and went to burn more than 15,000 acres, 486 homes and kill two people.

This year, El Paso County in southern Colorado has already had several small grass fires, although Saturday’s fire was the first this year to threaten homes.


Premier of short film: “Unacceptable Risk”

This trailer is about a short film that will premier February 24, 2015 at the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, Colorado on 26th Street, between Canyon Boulevard and Walnut Street.

Here is how the film is described:

“Celebrate the premiere of Unacceptable Risk: Firefighters on the Front Lines of Climate Change – a short film, featuring local firefighters who have battled many of Colorado’s epic fires of the past decade.

Our wildland firefighters are witnessing climate change impacts in their daily lives. Unacceptable Risk examines how these climate changes are transforming Colorado’s fire environment, bringing higher temperatures, drier fuels, and diseases to forests, which combine to create volatile conditions for firefighters and communities.

Following the screening, firefighters, climate scientists, and the filmmakers will join the audience for a conversation about ways that Coloradans can work together to address climate change and the growing threat of wildfires.

A reception will follow in The Dairy’s McMahon Gallery. The gallery is currently featuring an exhibition inspired by climate-related issues, entitled “Fire and Rain,” by Colorado-based artist Mary-Ann Kokoska, who will speak about her work.

The film is produced by The Story Group, a Boulder-based company.”

Admission is free.


Colorado: man fleeing cops drives on rims, sparks grass fire

Castle Rock Fire Colorado State Patrol photoA driver suspected of being intoxicated failed to stop for police Friday night and led them on a chase on and off Interstate 25 in the Castle Rock area south of Denver (map). While trying to escape from the cops, he crashed into four other vehicles, one in a parking lot and three more on the Interstate.

Officers deployed stop sticks which flattened his tires but he kept going, eventually running on just the wheel rims, leaving a shower of sparks behind which ignited a grass fire. The suspected drunk driver and two crash victims in other vehicles were transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Police have identified the driver as Garrett Neugebauer, 41, of Peyton, Colorado. He faces 18 charges.

The photos were provided by the Colorado State Patrol.

Castle Rock Fire Castle Rock Fire


National Ecological Observatory Network studies the High Park Fire

This video was published June 6, 2013.
In response to one of the worst wildfires in Colorado history, scientists from the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University (CSU) are leading a first of its kind, large-scale wildfire impact study on the High Park Fire in partnership with Colorado’s newest research facility, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The study will provide critical data to communities still grappling with how to respond to major water quality, erosion and ecosystem restoration issues in an area spanning more than 136 square miles.

Supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) RAPID grant, the collaboration will integrate airborne remote sensing data collected by NEON’s Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) with ground-based data from a targeted field campaign conducted by CSU researchers. RAPID, short for Grants for Rapid Response Research, are used for proposals having a real urgency, including quick-response research on natural disasters. This effort is the first time a comprehensive airborne remote sensing system of this caliber will be used to enhance research on wildfire causes and impacts. The system will be able to detect remaining vegetation, identify plant species, ash cover, soil properties and other details to help illustrate how the fire burned–over the span of the entire fire scar.

“The NEON Airborne Observatory is transforming research by providing data to researchers and resource managers at temporal and geographic scales that could not previously be captured,” says Elizabeth Blood, NSF program director for NEON. “By combining ground measurements with data gathered from cutting-edge instruments in NEON airplanes, scientists are gathering potentially pivotal information about small scale and large scale processes that affect the spread of fires through forests and subsequent forest recovery.”

NEON will be to ecological health what an EKG is to heart health. Like an EKG generates snapshots of heart health by measuring heart activity at strategic locations on a patient’s body, NEON will generate snapshots of ecosystem health by measuring ecological activity at strategic locations throughout the U.S. Resulting ecological data will enable scientists to generate the first apples-to-apples comparisons of ecosystem health throughout large regions of the U.S. and the entire country over multiple decades.

Some of NEON’s data collection and educational operations have already begun, and others will begin incrementally until NEON becomes fully functional in 2017. All of NEON’s data, synthesized data products and associated educational materials will be made freely available on the Internet. These materials will thereby provide grist for groundbreaking analyses and educational activities by researchers, students, decision-makers, educators and the public.

NEON will be fully operational for some 30 years.

Articles at Wildfire Today tagged “High Park Fire”.


Wildfire briefing, November 28, 2014

Mail carrier stops wildfire

Bob Trujillo was delivering mail near Genesee, Colorado in August when he discovered a wildfire near a home. Since he had no cell phone service he went to a nearby house and asked the residents to call 911. While a woman at the house made the call, her husband joined Mr. Trujllo while he constructed a fire line around the fire.

A Sheriff’s deputy arrived and helped the men until the fire department arrived.

“When I arrived there was a lot of smoke but not much fire due to the line that Robert built around the fire,” the deputy wrote in his report. “The wind was blowing out of the South East at about 10 miles an hour with strong gusts.”

This week, Mr. Trujillo was honored with a Postmaster General’s “Hero’s Award”, Jefferson County Commissioners honored him with a Citizen’s Coin, and Foothills Fire Chief Brian Zoril presented him with a fireman’s helmet.

Washington state pays wealthy landowner following wildfire

A controversy is developing in the state of Washington after it was discovered that after the Carlton Complex of Fires that burned 300 homes and 256,108 acres, the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) paid nearly $2 million to one of the wealthiest landowners in Okanogan County.

Below are some excerpts from an article at King5:

…The taxpayer funded payment was reimbursement to Gebbers Farms, owner of one of the largest fruit orchards in the world.

Gebbers was paid for equipment and personnel that it used to fight fire, mostly on its own privately-owned property.

DNR says the payment was appropriate, because Gebbers was able to launch a large scale assault on the fire in coordination with public agencies fighting the wildfire.

DNR regional manager Loren Torgerson said the so-called “fire control contract” is the same kind of arrangement the agency uses when hiring contractors to fight fires.

Records show Gebbers was reimbursed $209,000 for salaries for its orchard workers and managers for 19 days of firefighting. It was paid $680,000 for the use of heavy equipment. And $435,000 was paid for at least four helicopters that Gebbers leased.

There’s evidence that the Gebbers property fared much better than neighboring properties.

A satellite image taken in the days after the fire shows a large, circular scar of burned vegetation. In the middle is a green patch that is mostly Gebbers property.

One of the family’s friends also happens to be the man who runs the DNR – lands commissioner Peter Goldmark.

“I knew the late Danny Gebbers – yes,” Goldmark said when KING 5 asked about his association with the family.

Danny Gebbers was the elderly family patriarch who died after he suffered an injury in a fall during the Carlton Complex Fire.

Like the Gebbers, Goldmark is a ranch owner and one of the largest landowners in Okanogan County.

But he says his relationship with them, the political contributions they have made to his campaigns over the years, had no bearing on DNR’s decision to reimburse Gebbers.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Dick and Carl.