Two large wildfires in Colorado

Two fires over the last two days in Colorado have burned a total of almost 2,200 acres. 

wildfire red flag warning
The red-shaded area was under a Red Flag Warning Friday, December 16, 2016.

The largest fire started Thursday night when very strong winds blew over a truck which then skidded along the road, creating sparks.  The blaze, now contained, burned about 2,000 acres near Interstate 25 south of Walsenburg, Colorado.

A fire near Loveland, Colorado also started Thursday night. Loveland Fire and Rescue reports that they have it contained at 189 acres.

A large portion of southeast Colorado was under a Red Flag Warning on Friday, but it expired at 6 p.m.

Snow will begin in the area Friday night after midnight and will continue off and on into Saturday afternoon. The high temperature near Walsenburg Saturday will be around 15 degrees.


Spread of the Junkins Fire slows

Above: Junkins Fire. Undated photo by the Incident Management Team.

The Junkins Fire has spread very little over the last two days. Most of the changes to the perimeter have been on the south side east of Highway 165, and on the northeast side south of Greenwood.

The number of personnel assigned has grown to 918. The latest size estimate is 18,132 acres. Evacuation orders are still in effect for County Road 387. Highway 165 and Custer County Road 358 are now open, however some spur roads in the fire area remain closed.

Progression Junkins Fire
Progression map of the Junkins Fire. The large blue area burned 9,442 acres on the first day, October 17. Click HERE to see a higher resolution version.

Firefighters are working on containing the northern flank, progressing east from Highway 165. Indirect dozer and hand line will be constructed along the Hardscrabble Creek drainage in preparation for planned firing operations. The northeast and eastern divisions remain in monitor and patrol status with engines continuing to secure areas around structures.

Along the southern portion of the fire, crews continue burning operations where needed, constructing direct line where possible. Multiple water sources have been established to assist as mop up operations continue.

bobcat Junkins Fire
A bobcat on the Junkins Fire near Highway October 25, 2016. USFS photo by Daryl Bressan.

Articles on Wildfire Today tagged “Junkins Fire”.

Firefighters continue to battle the Junkins Fire west of Pueblo, Colorado

Above: Map of the Junkins Fire, October 21, 2016. The black line is completed fireline, while the red line is uncontained. Produced by the incident management team.

(UPDATED at 10:48 a.m. MDT October 22, 2016)

The number of structures burned in the Junkins Fire west of Pueblo, Colorado has been updated. Officials are now saying 8 homes and 19 outbuildings burned, but only one of the homes was a primary residence. The incident management team is still calling the fire 17,809 acres.

The last of the evacuation orders for the portion of the fire in Pueblo County have been lifted. Evacuations are still in effect in some areas of Custer County.

The number of personnel and equipment assigned to the fire has significantly increased, to 722.

The map below shows heat detected by an aircraft at 12:18 a.m. MDT October 22, 2016.

map junkins fire
Map showing heat detected by an aircraft over the Junkins Fire at 12:18 a.m. MDT October 22, 2016.

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Rainfall in western states slows wildfire season in many areas

Rainfall last 2 weeks washington oregon
Rainfall last 2 weeks, Washington and Oregon

Rainfall over the last two weeks has slowed or in some cases, ended the wildfire season in some areas.

On October 19 we ran the numbers for the accumulated precipitation for the last 14 days in the western states. These maps show amounts that exceeded 0.05 inches at some of the Interagency Remote Automatic Weather Stations (RAWS).

Washington, Oregon, and northern California have received a good soaking and I would imagine that local fire officials may be declaring an end to the fire season. Of course this is not unusual for these areas this time of the year, and some locations had already seen their season end. But what IS unusual, is the high amount of moisture that occurred in just two weeks.

You can click on the images to see larger versions.

Rainfall last 2 weeks, northern California
Rainfall last 2 weeks, northern California
Rainfall last 2 weeks central California
Rainfall last 2 weeks, central California

Continue to see maps for the other western states.
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Sky lanterns cause problems for landowner

Sky lantern
File photo of a sky lantern release in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Takeaway.

Hundreds of sky lanterns released at an October 15 event 18 miles north of downtown Denver caused problems for at least one landowner five miles away from where they were launched.

A company that makes money by hosting “festivals” where they charge participants who release the small hot air balloons that are lofted by burning fuel at their base, organized an event at the Colorado National Speedway adjacent to Interstate 25.

Below is an excerpt from an article at KDVR:

…”We were watching it not really knowing what it was, but liking it. It was beautiful,” Lauren Gueswel said. She said the view was stunning, until close to 200 lanterns landed on her 40-acre farmland.

“I was extremely concerned and a little angry,” Gueswel said.

Gueswel and her husband chased after the debris while also trying to calm spooked animals.

“Terrified. They were absolutely terrified,” Gueswel said.

The lanterns blew nearly five miles to end up on her property. The couple was worried about dry patches of grass.

“Several of these were landing with embers still burning,” Gueswel said.

A spokesman for the event said the lanterns never hit the ground still hot. Several organizers from the event visited the farm to help pick up the leftover lanterns. They said cleanup is always protocol…

The company that organized the incident, Lantern Fest, had planned to continue releasing the fire-carrying devices on a second night, but it was cancelled due to strong winds. But, they are planning two other events in Colorado — November 5 in Colorado Springs and another one November 6 at the Colorado National Speedway north of Denver.

The company is also planning large-scale releases of the fire balloons near Phoenix, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Albuquerque, El Paso, Austin, Dallas, South Padre Island, Spokane, and Boise.

Colorado is one of the 21 states that still have not banned these dangerous devices.

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

Junkins Fire causes evacuations west of Pueblo, Colorado

Above: Map of the Junkins Fire October 18.

(Click HERE to view our most recent article about the Junkins Fire.)

(UPDATED at 4:31 p.m. MDT October 19, 2016)

The Junkins fire west of Pueblo, Colorado, according to mapping on October 18, has burned 16,832 acres. Fire officials said Wednesday a shortage of firefighting resources is slowing the construction of firelines and the containment of the fire. In fact, they are saying firefighters have not contained any of the fire.

It started during strong winds on October 17 when a power line failed and hit a barbed wire fence.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team from the Great Basis assumed command of the fire on Wednesday.


(UPDATE at 1:56 p.m. MDT October 18, 2016)

The Junkins Fire 21 air miles west of Pueblo, Colorado had burned 15,751 acres when mapped by one of the state’s Multi-Mission Aircraft at 7 p.m. on Monday. The fire continued to spread after that flight, particularly on the south and the northeast sides, and an updated acreage should be available after it is mapped again this morning.

Much of the activity of the firefighters has been defensive, staging firefighting resources well outside the fire perimeter to protect structures. Tuesday afternoon should bring winds out of the southwest and east, so a priority will be the structures along Highway 96.

The Tuesday forecast for the fire area also includes temperatures in the low 60’s, relative humidity in the low 20’s, and partly cloudy skies.

Junkins fire map
Planning Operations Section Chief Dan Dallas briefing about the Junkins Fire Tuesday Morning. Screen grab from Incident Management Team video. The gray shaded area on the right side is the 2005 Mason Fire. (The highway numbers were added by Wildfire Today.)

Some of the geographic Divisions are larger than desired due to a shortage of resources, according to Planning Operations Section Chief Dan Dallas.

East of County Road 387 the fire has burned into the large scar from the 2005 Mason Fire, slowing the spread. Monday night one of the most active sections of the fire was on the northeast side, between County Road 387 and the fire scar.

The county Sheriff said another residence burned Monday night, bringing the total up to two homes and 5 outbuildings that have burned.

Tuesday morning 114 personnel were assigned to the fire. Aircraft being used include 2 large air tankers, 4 single engine air tankers, 2 large helitankers, 2 national guard helicopters, a lead plane, and the Multi-Mission Aircraft. Operations Section Chief Dallas said he expected the aircraft will be used more heavily today than yesterday.


(UPDATED at 6:30 p.m. MDT October 17, 2017)

The Junkins Fire about 25 miles west of Pueblo, Colorado has burned about 13,300 acres according to a 3:30 p.m. update from fire officials. Approximately 80 personnel are on scene. One residence and three outbuildings have been destroyed. Part of the fire has spread into a an old burn from 2005, which slowed the progress of the fire in that area.

A Type 3 Incident Management Team is running the fire now, but a Type 1 Team has been ordered.


(UPDATED at 12:34 p.m. MDT October 17, 2016)

A fire that was reported at 3:40 a.m. MDT on Monday has already burned thousands of acres and forced evacuations about 29 miles west of Pueblo, Colorado. The Westcliffe Daily Record reported at 10:46 that the Junkins Fire has blackened approximately 11,000 acres. It is burning in the general vicinity of McKenzie Junction, the intersection of Highways 165 and 96, eight miles southwest of Wetmore.

map Junkins fire
Map showing the location of the Junkins Fire at 11 a.m. MDT October 17, 2016. The map was produced by the state of Colorado, but Wildfire Today added the highway numbers and other large black text.

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