Firefighters at Crystal fire prepare for Red Flag Warning

UPDATE at 10:05 a.m. MT, April 6, 2011

The evacuations that occurred Tuesday night were lifted Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. No additional houses burned during the last 24 hours.

Cool, humid weather moved into the area during the night. At 9:57 a.m. on Wednesday a weather station near the fire recorded 33 degrees with a relative humidity of 100%. The forecast for Wednesday and Wednesday night calls for a 44-57% chance of precipitation with a possibility of almost an inch of snow Wednesday night.

UPDATE at 7:53 p.m. MT, April 5, 2011

Evacuations are occurring again, now, on the Crystal fire.  From InciWeb:

Evacuations have been put in place for residents of Moondance Way, Stringtown Gulch, Redtail Way, Ohana Way, Lightning Ridge Way, Deer Path Way, and lower Wildsong Roads at approximately at 6:30 p.m. tonight, due to increased fire activity.

Most likely this renewed fire activity is a result of the strong winds which gusted at 21 to 40 mph Tuesday afternoon, as predicted by the Red Flag Warning below.

(End of update.)


Two engines at the Crystal Fire
U. S. Forest Service photo

The good news about the 3,200-acre Crystal fire west of Fort Collins, Colorado is that the MODIS satellite sensors did not detect any heat on the fire over the last 24 hours. This does not mean the fire is out by any means, just that the satellite, flying hundreds of miles above the earth, did not detect any heat sources large enough to be recorded.

However, there was activity on the fire on Monday, with a heavy air tanker making two retardant drops and two helicopters making bucket drops.

Firefighters are constructing and strengthening firelines after the bad news that the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for Tuesday afternoon and evening. The NWS expects west winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph, relative humidity as low as 12 to 17 percent, and temperatures much warmer than on Monday. The combination of these three factors will test Paul Summerfelt’s Type 1 Incident Management Team which assumed command of the fire Monday night.


Crystal Fire Map 04-05-2011
Crystal Fire Map, April 5, 2011. GeoMAC
Crystal Fire Map 04-05-2011
Crystal Fire Map, April 5, 2011. Click to enlarge. GeoMAC

The more accurate map released Tuesday morning reveals that 3,200 acres have burned, which revises the earlier estimates of 4,500 and 6,000 acres. A spokesman said 15 homes have burned, but that number could change after a closer evaluation of the burned area.

Scroll down below the jump to see more detailed maps of the Crystal fire.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to pay up to 75 percent of the state’s costs for suppressing the fire, but this would not apply to or affect the homeowners who had losses.

Here is a video report from the local CBS station in Denver:

Crystal Fire Map west portion, 04-05-2011
Crystal Fire Map, west portion, 04-05-2011, click to enlarge. GeoMAC


Crystal Fire Map east portion, 04-05-2011
Crystal Fire Map east portion, 04-05-2011, click to enlarge. GeoMAC

The Coloradoan has a Google Maps version of the fire perimeter.

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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.