Spring Creek Fire becomes third largest in state history

It has burned approximately 94,093 acres, displacing the High Park Fire for the number three position.

Above: A DC-10 drops retardant on the Spring Creek Fire. Undated photo by Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

(UPDATED at 12:37 p.m. MDT July 5, 2018)

The Spring Creek Fire was very active Wednesday and Wednesday night spreading in a direction we have not seen very often since the fire started June 27. It spread rapidly on the northwest side running two to four miles west of Pass Creek Road working its way up Iron Mountain. It is unknown how far it may have continued after reaching the top. Clouds made it difficult to get good infrared data in that area.

The fire has burned approximately 103,000 acres as of early Thursday morning.

map spring creek fire
3-D map of the northwest section of the Spring Creek Fire, looking north, showing data from 12:46 a.m. MDT July 5, 2018.

Here is the outlook provided by the Incident Management Team:

Atmospheric moisture will continue to increase through the end of the week. However, given the current fuel conditions, the fire will continue to follow heavy continuous fuels to the north towards Gardner, the northeast towards Badito, to the east towards Three Bridges, to the south towards Cuchara and Indian Creek regardless of general wind direction. Potential for scattered thunderstorm activity which can cause gusty outflow winds in any direction.


(Originally published at 8:11 a.m. MDT July 4, 2018)

The Spring Creek Fire in southern Colorado between La Veta and Fort Garland added another 15,000 acres Tuesday to become the third largest in the recorded history of the state after Tuesday night’s mapping estimated that it has burned approximately 94,093 acres. A partial cloud cover made 100% precision impossible.

The five largest:

  1. Hayman Fire in 2002, 137,760 acres, NW of Colorado Springs
  2. West Fork in 2013, 110,405 acres, Wolf Creek Pass
  3. Spring Creek in 2018, 94,093 acres (preliminary mapping, still spreading) La Veta
  4. High Park Fire in 2012, 87,284 acres, west of Ft. Collins
  5. Missionary Ridge Fire in 2002, 71,739 acres, Durango

CLICK HERE to see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Spring Creek Fire.

Continue reading “Spring Creek Fire becomes third largest in state history”

Maps of Spring Creek Fire, July 3, 2018

Above: 3-D map of the Spring Creek Fire looking northwest.

(UPDATED at 12:57 p.m. MDT July 3, 2018)

The area where the Spring Creek Fire is located in south-central Colorado is under a Red Flag Warning today. At around noon a weather station near La Veta was recording temperatures in the mid-eighties, 9 percent relative humidity, and winds out of the west at 15 mph. On Wednesday the conditions should be similar, but with slightly higher humidity.

Tuesday afternoon the Incident Management Team changed their reported  size of the fire to 78,941 acres — up from 60,710 earlier today.


(Originally published at 8 a.m. MDT July 3, 2018)

The Spring Creek Fire is burning homes and devastating tens of thousands of acres of private land 17 miles west of Walsenburg, Colorado. San Luis Valley 911 tweeted Monday night that 104 homes have been destroyed in the Forbes Park area.

Since it started June 27 it has blackened 60,710 acres, according to the official information from the Incident Management Teams Monday night. Our VERY UNOFFICIAL estimate is that at least 75,000 acres have burned as of early Tuesday morning.

CLICK HERE to see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Spring Creek Fire.

These maps were made with Google Earth using fire perimeter data collected at 12:53 a.m. MDT July 3, 2018 (the red line) by a U.S. Forest Service mapping aircraft. The yellow line was the perimeter about 24 hours before.  We hope they will answer a few questions for local residents about which areas are within the burned perimeter. Of course if they are, it does not mean that the structures have been destroyed. Firefighters have no doubt worked hard to save many.

map Spring Creek Fire
Map of the Spring Creek Fire.
map Spring Creek Fire
3-D map of the Spring Creek Fire looking southwest.

Continue reading “Maps of Spring Creek Fire, July 3, 2018”

Person arrested for arson in Spring Creek Fire is in the US illegally

Jesper Joergensen
Jesper Joergensen

According to the Denver Post in a story published today the person who has been arrested for arson related to what is now the 56,820-acre Spring Creek Fire in south-central Colorado is in the United States illegally. Jesper Joergensen, who holds a Denmark passport, had a visa which has now expired.

Costilla County sheriff’s deputies are working on the case with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel.

Below is a statement from the  Sheriff’s office released on June 30:

The initial cause of the fire was human caused. The investigation was lead by our office with the assistance of CBI, State arson investigators, CSP, and Immigration and Customs agents. Jesper Joergensen, 52, was arrested without incident by Costilla County deputies. Jesper is being held on Arson charges. The investigation is still on going so information on this matter is limited.

The Denver Post article mentions that the arrest warrant said about 25 homes had been destroyed in the fire, but fire officials on Monday are reporting that no structures have burned.


CLICK HERE to see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Spring Creek Fire.

Spring Creek Fire spreads closer to highway 12

(UPDATED at 8 p.m. MDT July 2, 2018)

Map Spring Creek Fire
The Spring Creek Fire showing updates from 9:13 p.m. MDT June 1, and from 2:01 p.m. MDT July 2, 2018. Click to enlarge.

A brief update on the Spring Creek Fire burning 17 miles west of Walsenburg, Colorado. Monday afternoon at 2:01 a satellite detected active fire on the north side of Mt. Maestas. At that time the fire had not made it down to the flatter terrain on the north side but it may have by sundown. There was also activity on the southeast side during the satellite overflight.

Portions of several highways are closed, including 69, 160, and 12.

Closed Roads
Closed Roads. July 2, 2018. Colorado DOT.

(Updated at 12:27 p.m. MDT July 2, 2018)

On Sunday and Sunday night the Spring Creek Fire east of Fort Garland, Colorado spread closer to Highway 12, coming to within two miles in some places.

According to the Incident Management Team the fire has burned 56,820 acres with most of that being on private land. Approximately 2,878 structures are threatened but so far none have been destroyed.

Tuesday morning the management of the fire will be spilt with two Rocky Mountain Type 2 IMTs. The Blue Team will take the portion of the fire north of Highway 160.

CLICK HERE to see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Spring Creek Fire.

The IMT is concerned about outflow winds from passing thunderstorms Monday which could push the fire in any direction. The fire should become active before noon, and could be very active throughout the afternoon.

On the east side of the fire, growth has slowed somewhat as the fire moves into lighter fuels. Indirect contingency lines are being constructed, anchoring to the 421 road and Highway 12, with the goal of keeping the fire west of La Veta.

Below is more information from the IMT:

“On the south side in Division K, the fire has moved south of East Indian Creek and is progressing over the ridges of Raspberry Mountain, continuing downslope through heavy fuels. While this type of “backing” behavior (downhill growth), does not move as quickly as fire running up hill, the fire is expected to continue moving south/southwest toward Cuchara Village. The geography between Raspberry Mountain and the communities of Pinehaven and Cuchara Village is extremely challenging with significant beetle kill fuel, rough terrain and narrow canyons. This is a difficult area to place firefighters, as there are minimal escape routes should fire intensity change. As fire continues to push south, crews are constructing indirect line around the communities of Pinehaven and Cuchara Village and will prepare structures in this area in the event of fire spread. Expect to see large smoke columns in this area today.

“The fire is growing to the south-southwest in Divisions N and Z, pushing toward West Indian Creek. Crews are successfully implementing point protection for houses in the South Forbes community. Firefighters are scouting for opportunities to create indirect line to keep the fire north of West Indian Creek. On the southeast side of the fire, crews are working to construct fireline off Mallott Rd, moving from Division A south and east into Divisions Z and N to keep fire east of Trinchera.

“The west and northwest sides of the fire in Divisions A and D continue to hold. The 5% containment is along the northwest perimeter in Division D. Crews are scouting for options for more indirect line running from the ridges back into Highway 160.

“There is now a portable fire retardant plant east of La Veta. Aircraft will drop retardant on areas where its effects will be successful. Air tankers are in use, and the Spring Fire now has two National Guard Blackhawk helicopters participating in air operations along with currently assigned resources.”

Multiple wildfires burning in Colorado

Above: Colorado Fires. Heat detected at 1:01 p.m. MDT June 30, 2018.

(UPDATED at 6:11 p.m. MDT June 30, 2018)

Colorado has been the location where much of the firefighting action has taken place during the last couple of weeks and that continues as at least five large blazes burn across the state.

The map above shows the locations of the largest and most active fires. The heat data on the map is from 1:01 p.m.  MDT June 30.

Here is the list:

  • 416 Fire, 9 miles north of Durango. 47,000 acres. It started June 1.
  • Spring Creek Fire, between La Veta and Fort Garland along Highway 160. 38,000 acres. CDOT reports that the closure of US 160 between Fort Garland and La Veta and the closure of CO 12 between Cuchara and La Veta, will continue. The fire is now pretty well established on the north sides of Highway 160 and Mt. Maestas. (More information.)
  • Chateau Fire, 7 miles northwest of Cripple Creek. Our VERY UNOFFICIAL estimate puts it at 1,300 acres early Saturday afternoon. (More information)
  • Weston Pass Fire, 16 miles southeast of Leadville. Our VERY UNOFFICIAL estimate puts it at 3,400 acres early Saturday afternoon. US 285, in Park County, is closed between Fairplay and Antero Junction (mp 188 to mp 163) in both directions. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered and will assume command  7/1. This team will manage both the Weston Pass Fire and the High Chateau Fire. (More information)
  • Sugarloaf Fire, 13 miles northeast of Silverthorne. The Forest Service estimates it has burned about 1,300 acres. This fire is not being fully suppressed.

Spring Creek Fire spreads closer to La Veta, Colorado

The fire is three miles west of the town

Above: The Spring Creek Fire, based on data from 1 p.m. MDT June 30, 2018. (Cropped by Wildfire Today from a map prepared by the Incident Management Team, with a modified legend.)

(Updated at 8 a.m. MDT July 1, 2018)

The Spring Creek Fire grew by about 7,000 acres Saturday to bring the size up to 41,292 acres. We don’t have a product from an overnight mapping flight due to clouds that obscured most of the fire, trapping the heat signatures that would normally be detected by sensors on the aircraft.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered on June 30 for the area north and east of Trinchera Ranch Road, and south of Highway 160 in the Fort Garland area. There is an evacuation shelter at the Blanca Fort Garland Community Center.

CLICK HERE to see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Spring Creek Fire.

The map produced by the Incident Management Team (IMT) for Sunday indicates that none of the perimeter has any held or contained fireline, and reports issued also show zero percent containment. If accurate, this is unusual for a fire that has been burning for five days and has 480 personnel assigned, including 10 hand crews, 32 engines, and 7 helicopters. But as we have often stated, containment numbers issued by some IMTs are notoriously unreliable.

As the fire expands over a larger area, the command and control becomes more difficult. To mitigate this, a second IMT has been mobilized.

The current IMT, with Incident Commander Shane Greer, explained how this will work:

This increased staffing and additional management will allow fire managers to continue implementing strategies and tactics that prioritize firefighter and public safety while working to protect values at risk. Tomorrow, the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Blue will arrive and begin coordinating with Team Black management to ensure a successful transfer of information. It is expected that, on Monday, the fire will be split into two separate management areas. The current Team Black will remain in command of all fire areas south of Highway 160. The incoming Team Blue will take command of all fire areas north of Highway 160. The two teams will work in very close coordination to ensure the public continues receiving accurate and consistent information.

A public meeting is scheduled for Sunday, July 1 at 6:00 p.m. Fire officials will provide updates about the ongoing suppression efforts and respond to questions from the audience. The meeting will be at the La Veta High School Gymnasium (109 E. Garland Street, La Veta, Colorado). Space is limited. The meeting will also be streamed on Facebook live.(www.facebook.com/springfire2018).

Spring Creek Fire
Spring Creek Fire, uploaded by the Incident Management Team June 29.

 


(UPDATED at 6:28 p.m. MDT June 30, 2018)

Here is a map showing heat detected on the Spring Creek Fire at 1:01 p.m. MDT June 30, 2018.

map spring creek fire
Map showing heat detected on the Spring Creek Fire at 1:01 p.m. MDT June 30, 2018.

CDOT reports that the closure of US 160 between Fort Garland and La Veta and the closure of CO 12 between Cuchara and La Veta, will continue. The fire is now pretty well established on the north sides of Highway 160 and Mt. Maestas. There has been growth there, as well as on the southeast side in the last 18 hours. The west side close to Hwy. 160 is remaining pretty stable.

3-D map Spring Creek Fire
3-D map of the Spring Creek Fire looking west, from data collected at 9:58 p.m. MDT June 29, 2018. The actual maximum perimeter is not shown in all places, however the extent of the fire should be current on the north, east, and southeast sides. All areas with active fire are shown.

 


(Originally published at 6:41 a.m. MDT June 30, 2018)

The Spring Creek Fire 51 miles southwest of Pueblo, Colorado has grown closer to the small town of La Veta, population 800. A mapping flight at 9:58 p.m. Friday showed that it was three miles west of the community. On the other side of the fire it was eight miles southwest of Fort Garland.

It has crossed Highway 160, which is closed at La Veta Pass, and is working its way up Mt. Maestas. Near the top of the 11,000-foot ridge on the mountain there is much less fuel, which slows the fire. Firefighters are no doubt hoping to extinguish any spot fires that may cross the ridge and they will want to keep the fire from burning around the forested lower-slopes on the east and west sides.

map Spring Creek Fire
Map of the Spring Creek Fire, from data collected at 9:58 p.m. MDT June 29, 2018. The actual maximum perimeter is not shown in all places, however the extent of the fire should be current on the north, east, and southeast sides. All areas with active fire are shown.

Officially, the fire is 33,956 acres, but that is based on information from Friday afternoon at 2:40 as determined by Colorado’s MultiMission Aircraft. Overnight mapping by a U.S. Forest Service aircraft puts it closer to 38,000 acres. Most of the fire is on private land, with smaller portions on BLM, State, and U.S. Forest Service areas.

The correct name of the fire is “Spring Creek”, but more often it is referred to as the “Spring Fire”.