Two fire crew vehicles hit by truck, 5 firefighters injured

Five members of the Mid-Plains Interagency Hand Crew received minor injuries.

Mid-Plains Interagency Hand Crew
File photo of the Mid-Plains Interagency Hand Crew at the Beaver Creek Fire in Colorado. It was posted July 4, 2016 on the Mid-Plains Crew’s Facebook Page. The composition of the crew on July 15, the day of the vehicle accident, may have been different.

Two vehicles transporting members of the Mid-Plains Interagency Hand Crew were involved in a serious vehicle accident Thursday afternoon.

Five of the firefighters were transported to the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado where they were treated and released with minor injuries.

At the time of the accident they were on Interstate 25 near Fort Collins en route to the Hayden Pass Fire south of Salida, Colorado. Traffic ahead of them came to an abrupt halt and the two vehicles were able to stop but the one in the rear had to swerve to the left to avoid the first crew vehicle.

A semi truck behind them tried to stop but careened into both firefighter vehicles, pushing the second truck into a cable median. A fuel tank on the semi truck ruptured, spilling about 50 gallons of fuel on the highway.

One of the crewmembers is a paramedic who was carrying Advanced Life Support equipment. That individual took charge of the medical response immediately at the accident scene.

The word we received is that both firefighter vehicles were totaled.

The Mid-Plains Interagency Type 2 Initial Attack Hand Crew can be assembled from a roster of fire-qualified personnel from Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota. They can be from the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, local fire departments, state agencies, or other organizations.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Mike.

An impressive save

The fact that firefighters were able to save this home in the Cold Springs Fire is pretty amazing. Click on the photo once, and then again to see a large version.

Astronaut photographs Hayden Pass Fire

On Monday astronaut Jerry Williams posted these photos on Twitter from the International Space Station showing the Hayden Pass Fire 17 air miles southeast of Salida, Colorado

Perhaps with too much time on my hands I thought it would be interesting to attempt to duplicate them using Google Earth images with labeled landmarks. Click on the photos below to see larger versions.

Below, the first and third images are Mr. William’s, while the second and fourth are from Google Earth. The photos are looking east.

Jeff Williams Hayden Pass Fire
The smaller smoke in the distance may be the Hairy Fire on Ft. Carson south of Colorado Springs.

Hayden Pass fire

Jeff Williams Hayden Pass Fire

Hayden Pass Fire
The red fire perimeter was the location of the fire at 11 p.m. MDT on July 12. The white line is from 10 p.m. on July 11. Mr. Williams posted his photos on July 11.

Ours main article about the fire is HERE.

Colorado: Hayden Pass Fire causes evacuations south of Salida

(UPDATE at 8:40 a.m. MDT July 15, 2016)

Hayden Pass Fire
Hayden Pass Fire at noon July 14, 2016. InciWeb photo.

The Hayden Pass Fire near Coaldale, Colorado grew by about 1,000 acres on Thursday and has now burned approximately 15,700 acres.

The incident management team reported Thursday night that they received more helicopters and seemed to imply that suppression of the fire had been hampered by a shortage of aircraft:

Additional helicopters arrived, enabling firefighters to utilize seven ships this afternoon, performing water drops and vital reconnaissance for fires that begin outside the fire perimeter.

Evacuations, road, area and trail closures are in effect and one structure has been destroyed.

The fire has spread south towards the Lake Creek drainage and west of the Duckett fire scar of 2011. Structural protection teams are installing sprinkler systems and removing vegetation around some structures out ahead of the fire.

3-D Map Hayden Pass Fire
3-D Map of the Hayden Pass Fire looking northwest toward Salida. The red line was the perimeter at 10 p.m. MDT July 14, 2016. The white line was the perimeter two days earlier. Click to enlarge.

The weather forecast for the Coaldale area for Friday and Saturday predicts temperatures in the low to mid-80s, southwest winds at 8 to 10 mph, and relative humidities in the low teens with very little chance of rain. Parts of Colorado will be under Red Flag Warnings or Fire Weather Watches Friday and Saturday.

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(UPDATE at 1:30 p.m. MDT July 14, 2016)

Hayden Pass Fire
Hayden Pass Fire at 3 p.m. July 10, 2016. InciWeb photo.

The incident management team for the Hayden Pass Fire issued the information below as part of a Thursday morning update:

…Crews are actively suppressing the fire outside of the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness utilizing structure defense, direct and indirect fire control strategies. Helicopters and air tankers are supporting these strategies, to include retardant drops for structural protection. Firefighting resources are shifting as priorities are completed and new risks are prioritized. Firefighters will continue to suppress the fire using resources and tactics to minimize firefighter risk with the highest probability of success.
The fire continues to burn in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. Crews are not currently engaging the fire within the wilderness due to complex terrain causing safety concerns; rather, they will closely monitor fire movement and assist Forest Service staff by informing recreationists of area closures…

The update on the fire posted today at InciWeb did not include the revised size of the fire. Members of the media who attended a press conference this morning reported it had grown to more than 14,500 acres.

The way the U.S. Forest Service describes the management strategy of these less-than-full-suppression wildfires is confusing — to the public and even some firefighters. Officially the Hayden Pass Fire is listed as a “monitor/confine/contain” fire rather than “full suppression” like most fires. But the agency and the Information Officers communicating with citizens do not like to discuss that publicly. It can be scary to some when they hear that the government is not pulling out all the stops in order to put out a fire quickly. And it can be disconcerting to think about a fire within sight of hundreds of homes burning from early July until October 1, which is the “completion” date for the Hayden Pass Fire listed in the excerpt below from the National Situation Report. (See “Cnt/Comp” which refers to Contain or Complete, with Contain being suppression, and Complete referring to less-than-full-suppression.)

Hayden Pass Fire information
Information about the Hayden Pass Fire from the National Situation Report, July 14, 2016.
Hayden Pass Fire information
Information about the Hayden Pass Fire, from the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center, July 14, 2016.
Cold Springs Fire information
For comparison, this is information about the Cold Springs Fire, from the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center, July 14, 2016.

Below are two video briefings that were posted on Thursday. The first features Incident Commander Jay Esperance. Following that is Operations Section Chief Travis Lipp. Click on the full screen icons to see larger versions.

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(UPDATE at 21:20 p.m. MDT July 13, 2016)

At a 10 a.m. press briefing today a spokesperson for the Hayden Pass Fire said it grew yesterday by about 600 acres to just under 13,000 acres

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(UPDATED at 8:20 a.m. MDT July 13, 2016)

map Hayden Pass Fire
The red line was the perimeter of the Hayden Pass Fire at 11 p.m. MDT July 12, 2016. The white line was the perimeter 25 hours before. Click to enlarge.

The Hayden Pass Fire 17 air miles southeast of Salida, Colorado added less than 1,000 acres on Tuesday mostly through activity on the southeast side but also on the north side. Dozers constructed fireline from Hayden Creek toward Big Cottonwood drainage while a hotshot crew built line from Big Cottonwood drainage toward Hayden Creek and the dozer line. Aircraft were used in those areas to slow the fire and support firefighters on the ground.

The fire is still 1 to 2 miles southwest of Coaldale.

The weather on Wednesday could be conducive to additional fire spread. The forecast for the fire area 3 miles south-southwest of Coaldale predicts 85 degrees, relative humidity in the low teens, and a west wind at 10 to 13 mph.

Evacuation information is at the Fremont County Sheriff’s Facebook page.

Continue reading “Colorado: Hayden Pass Fire causes evacuations south of Salida”

Cold Springs Fire burns hundreds of acres west of Boulder, Colorado

(Originally published at 12:18 MDT July 11, 2016)

Cold Springs Fire map
Map showing the perimeter of the Cold Springs Fire at 1 a.m. MDT July 11, 2016. Click to enlarge.

The Cold Springs Fire has caused evacuations of about 2,000 residents near Nederland, Colorado, 10 miles west of Boulder. The fire, now 606 acres, started at about 1:30 p.m. on July 9 from an escaped campfire. Three transients were camping on private property and failed to extinguish the campfire they had Thursday night, according to the Boulder County Sheriff personnel, who arrested two of the three people Sunday, Jimmy Andrew Suggs, 28, and Zackary Ryan Kuykendall, 26, both of Vinemont, Alabama.

The Daily Camera interviewed the campers before they were arrested for fourth-degree arson, a Class 4 felony.

Cold Springs Fire
Screen shot from the Daily Camera interview.
Booking photos
Booking photos of Jimmy Andrew Suggs (left), 28, and Zackary Ryan Kuykendall (right), 26. Photo by Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.

On Sunday strong winds pushed the Cold Springs Fire toward Highway 119 and Boulder Creek Canyon, but firefighters worked overnight to construct fire lines and protect newly-threatened homes. Two very small spot fires on the south side of Boulder Creek Canyon were fully contained. At least 17 engines crews and four 20-person Hotshot crews worked overnight to build fire lines from Highway 119 along the fire’s edge. Crews also conducted burnout operations along Highway 119 to strengthen fire lines.

A damage assessment team confirmed on Monday that five homes have been destroyed.

Aircraft dropped 85,206 gallons of retardant on Saturday and 84,555 gallons on Sunday.

The weather forecast for the fire area on Monday could present problems for firefighters. It predicts 10 to 18 mph west winds gusting at 20 to 30 mph and a relative humidity of 16 percent. Conditions will be more benign on Tuesday.

Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team 2 with Incident Commander Shane Greer assumed command of the fire at 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Weather Cold Springs Fire 7-11-2016

Map Cold Springs Fire
Map of the Cold Springs Fire at 8 p.m. MDT July 10, 2016.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Jeffrey.

The spread of the Beaver Creek Fire in northern Colorado slows

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.

Beaver Creek Fire beetles intensity
Photo of a portion of the Beaver Creek Fire in an area with heavy beetle kill. One smoke is visible. USFS photo by Andrea Holland.

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.

More information about the Beaver Creek Fire.

Beaver Creek Fire map
Map of the Beaver Creek Fire July 3, 2016. USFS.
Beaver Creek Fire moose
A moose and her calf investigate evidence of firefighter activity on the Beaver Creek Fire.
Beaver Creek Fire sprinklers
Sprinklers are set up on an ATV bridge near the Beaver Creek Fire.
Beaver Creek Fire Chinook
A Chinook helicopter uses its snorkle to refill its internal water tank while working on the Beaver Creek Fire.
Beaver Creek Fire
AN area of high burn intensity on the Beaver Creek Fire.