Colorado: Medano fire, under the radar until today

The Mendano Medano fire in Great Sand Dunes National Park, about 70 miles southwest of Pueblo, Colorado (map) has not been doing much… until today. Lightning started the fire on June 6 and yesterday it was about 373 acres, but by Thursday evening it had burned about 3,000 acres according to park spokeswoman Carol Sperling. The National Park Service is not putting it out, but is allowing it to benefit the natural resources.

The fire has not been mentioned in the national Situation Report and it is absent from Inciweb. Even the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center’s web site today in their June 17 Morning Update, under Large Fire Activity, said “No Large Fires”. It was last mentioned in their News and Notes on June 16. The last I heard, a “large fire” for purposes of being listed on the national Situation Report was 100 acres or more.

But KDVR in an article posted at 7:44 PM MDT on June 17,  quoted Sperling as saying it had burned about 3,000 acres by Thursday evening. She said about 30 people are currently assigned, but more are on the way.

The fire is putting so much smoke into southern Pueblo County that alarmed residents are inundating the 911 call center, prompting the Pueblo County Sheriff to send out a press release saying:

Pueblo County emergency officials are requesting that reports of fire in the areas of Colorado City and Rye be limited to reports of visible flames only.

It will be interesting to see if the fire shows up in the various situation reports tomorrow.

Here is a viewer-submitted video and a still photo that were posted on the site, dated today, June 17.

Mendano fire

The photo below is from the Great Sand Dunes National Park site; it is undated, but we can assume it was taken prior to the major expansion today.

Mendano fire
NPS photo

UPDATE: Late this evening a short Type 2 Incident Management Team was ordered for the fire. And the Pueblo Interagency Dispatch Center said that there were red flag warnings in effect for zones 214, 216, 220-222, and 224-229 from noon to 9 pm today.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

7 thoughts on “Colorado: Medano fire, under the radar until today”

  1. Looks like a stand replacing event to me.

    I wonder how many times a fire that was “meeting resource objectives” has gone into one that caused severe stand, soil, and air damage?

    Is there bug kill in the area?

  2. Um, that’s “Medano,” accenting the first syllable, and locally pronounced “MAD-naw.”

    I live in the next county east from where it’s burning–started smelling smoke on Thursday morning.

    You are right about “under the radar” until today.

  3. I haven’t been impressed with Inciweb at all this summer so far. I get more up to date fire info from this site than I do from Inciweb.

  4. There was a lot of beetle kill, dead fall and over growth on this mountain. The fire will be a good thing to clean everything up.

  5. I guess I could agree with that somewhat. Under a prescribed fire situation, the area probably could have been ‘cleaned up’ properly and maintained and/or improved stand quality.

    Under wildfire conditions as they are now, stand replacement is being experienced in the Pinyon/Juniper stands. The area isn’t being ‘cleaned up’, it’s being type converted and nuked with significant effects to the flora and fauna… the soils… and to the local public (human and wildlife).

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