Colorado’s High Park fire grows to 36,000 acres

High Park Fire 2:25 am MT, June 11, 2012

UPDATE at 8:12 p.m. MT, June 11, 2012:

One person found dead in burned home

At a media briefing tonight at 8 p.m. a spokesperson for Larimer County reported that a deceased person has been found in a burned home. The individual has been tentatively identified as 62-year old Linda Steadman who resided at 9123 Old Flowers Road. Two calls were made to warn Ms Steadman, who had a landline telephone, to evacuate.  When fire officials could not confirm she left her home, they made two attempts to visit her, but were driven back by the fire. On the second attempt the fire officer made it through her locked gate but because of the fire was not able to access the house. At that time the officer thought the house was probably already burning.

Our condolences go out to the Steadman family.

Fire grows on Monday

The fire was mapped on Monday at 41,140 acres.

Sheriff’s Office clashes with media

The Denver Post is reporting that the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office requested that the media not show photos of destroyed homes out of respect to the homeowners. The Larimer County fire and Sheriff’s Office personnel have done an excellent job of keeping the public and media informed of developments on the fire, so this is very surprising. The request was ignored by the media, according to the Post, which provided quotes from media outlets saying it is a journalistic imperative to deliver the news, even if it is not good news.

With the exception of this lapse in judgement by the County officials, they have been excellent examples of how to provide information about a rapidly spreading fire, that Incident Management Teams and fire agencies should emulate. It is a shame they blew it on the attempted ban on photos.

UPDATE at 2:42 p.m. MT, June 11, 2012:

The number of structures that have been destroyed or damaged in the High Park fire has been revised to 118 as firefighters have been able to enter some of the areas that burned in the fire.

UPDATED at 9:21 a.m. MT, June 11, 2012:

High Park Fire 2:25 am MT, June 11, 2012
Map of the High Park Fire in Colorado, showing heat detected by satellites at 2:25 am MT, June 11, 2012. MODIS

The High Park fire has been extremely active since it started early Saturday morning. Over the last 24 hours it has grown to 36,930 acres and approached to within four miles of Fort Collins, Colorado. The map of the fire above shows heat detected by satellites at 2:25 a.m. MT on Monday.

The map below also shows the extent of the fire but with more detail than the previous one.

Map of High Park Fire 2:25 a.m. MT, June 11, 2012
Map of High Park Fire 2:25 a.m. MT, June 11, 2012, showing heat detected by satellites at 2:25 a.m. MT, June 11, 2012, MODIS/Google Earth/Wildfire Today

HERE is a link to a higher resolution version of the above map (300K).

Most of the growth of the fire on Sunday and Sunday night was on the south and southeast sides. It has crossed Highway 14 in at least two places — a small area on the west side of the Hewlett fire (which burned in May), and a second area on the east side of the fire near N Co Rd 29C.

Eighteen structures are confirmed lost or damaged and others are threatened. No details about the structures are available.

On Sunday there were five large air tankers working the fire: two CV-580’s (T-42 and T-45) and three P2V’s (T-48, T-44, and T-06). There are also some Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) assigned to the fire. Most of the air tankers are reloading with retardant at the Rocky Mountain Metro Airport, 48 miles southeast of the fire. On June 9 we posted some photos of the CV-580 air tankers at the airport.

The local fire and law enforcement personnel are doing a good job providing information to the public about the fire and evacuations:

We posted more information about the fire on June 10 and June 9.


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+

25 thoughts on “Colorado’s High Park fire grows to 36,000 acres”

  1. limerick responses only!

    there once was an airtanker full of solutions
    some think they are written in the constitution
    but with five on the high park fire
    the situation is still quite dire
    perhaps it’s time for a new institution

  2. I really hope that they are able to get this one under control soon. It’s been a bad wildfire season in Colorado so far, and that part of my beautiful state has been hit especially hard this year.

  3. do they use fire models to predict the growth/spread of a fire? i live here in fort collins (the town itself) and am curious about the probabilities of it spreading from the foothills to the town.

    1. Yup they do, they also have a fuel model discribing urban areas…..NB1…..Non Burnable………. With that being said, look at how S. Cali burns…..If FTC burns, It will only burn the outskirts of town, Old town and Odells should be safe! 🙂

  4. Thanks for the good coverage. I lived there for a few years a long time ago and hiked/hunted/skied a lot of that country.

  5. There once was a fire named High
    That thought he would give it a try
    To burn a small city
    Even though it was pretty
    To the city the fire draws nigh.

  6. For clarification I believe the airport is now Rocky Mountain Metro, but, the base is still JEFFCO Airtanker Base

  7. I simply don’t understand why more effort isn’t put into stopping these fires earlier, given the known ground and weather conditions which contribute to this uncontrolled and rapid burning. I’m not criticizing current efforts, but wouldn’t doubling or tripling the effort on Saturday have prevented most or all of this current situation?

    1. Donna – unfortunately, it probably would have made little difference. The folks managing the fire undoubtedly were calling for all the resources they could get (remember, many of the resources on the fire take hours to days to arrive), but when weather and fuels are creating extreme fire conditions, no human effort will change the outcome until something changes. All you can do is assemble your forces and be ready to attack when weather or fuels change. Aircraft can’t work effectively in high winds, and engines and hand crews aren’t any use when the fire is spotting long distances as this one was in the early hours/days (maybe still is). The only thing that can make a difference in those conditions is if homeowners took the steps in advance to prepare their properties to survive a fire. That’s even not a guarantee, but it’s the only thing that’ll help during extreme fire behavior. That, and getting out of the way while the fire does what it’s going to do, and being ready to attack when it slows down.

  8. hi im 13 and i was wondering if the fier will come out to henderson or denver or something like that?al so i have some skeches i wold like to show you to see if it will help with wiled fiers.afiter the one that is going on dys out but i wold like to see it come trow.i love macking the world a beter place but its hared to do it by my self. well thank you the email is my moms email. 🙂

    can you help me make a diffrence?

    it make me sad of looking at the world kuz of what has gon on with the inviwement i wold like to tell you what i think…


    1. Victoria,

      You can most definitely make a difference sharing your experiences and your sketches from the fire.

      Please contact the Wildland Firefighter Foundation at either or call them at 208-336-2996.

  9. Pretty ridiculous to chastise the Sherrif for wanting to keep photos of damaged personal property out of the news. The media seems to think that in the name of informing the public they should have no boundaries which should not be crossed. In the event that someone has passed, one shouldn’t release names until the family has been informed. In this instance, keep those particular photos out of the general media flow until the fire has been controlled and all official results have been disseminated from whatever regulatory group has them. You watch the news reports on this and you can almost see the anchors salivating because they feel they have something dramatic to get their one-liner in, or that somewhere down the road someone will remember they reported on the High Park Fire…makes me sick. This is a horrible event for some people and extremely stressful and scary for others right now, report the facts and leave it at that, let these folks handle their particular circumstance before you go splashing pictures of their burning house on national TV.

    1. I respect the opinion, “C”, but I have a different point of view. If we allow the government to censor what the media can report, where does it stop? How would that affect coverage of other incidents when property is damaged in hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and vehicle accidents? Who would have the authority to make that decision? Should a policeman at a vehicle accident be able to tell a photographer that they can’t take a photo of a damaged automobile, even if there were no injuries, because it might adversely affect the owner? And what would the penalty be if an image of a burned structure or wrecked car shows up somewhere?

      Should we prohibit all video and still photography of all natural disasters because someone’s feelings might be hurt? Sure, the people that lost property in this fire have suffered a loss, no question, and I feel for them. Taxpayers and citizens are affected when a national park or forest burns, which is their property, and some of them feel terrible about it. Should we not show publicly-owned trees that have burned? But houses that are made from trees, we shouldn’t show, you’re saying.

      It’s a slippery slope, “C”, to advocate that the government should be allowed decide what the media can report.

      If a media outlet shows images you feel should not be public, you have the right to inform them that you feel they showed poor judgement, and you can take your business or viewership elsewhere if you find an outlet that better fits your taste. In our free system, the marketplace can help quality organizations rise to the top.

      1. The Bill of Rights provides for a free press. In this case the media was well within their rights. With the exception of the dead, injured, or invasion of privicy authorities should and must not attempt to censor photos or information.

        1. The gov’t shouldn’t have to censor it, common sense should dictate to the media what is tactful and what they should maybe give some time to settle before dumping it into the media stream. I’m all for free press and getting information out, keep people in the know for it could be life-saving at times, but rather than wasting words chastising a group of people who are putting themselves in precarious situations in the name of others in the community, give them credit where it is due and critique them after the fact, not while the fight is still on. I don’t disagree at all that above most anything we don’t need the gov’t sticking its nose in more than it already does, but as I said before there should be a line of common sense and tact. You’re comparing a personal home to a public lands forest, really? I know this is your site but that’s a reach. You have taken my statement of “give those affected some time to digest before pasting in for the world to see”, and turned it into an anti-government rant. I had appreciated your updates until that point, and do appreciate the service you have done fighting fires yourself and also keeping the flow of information for those of us looking for it. At this point you have crossed the line from being tactful to not worth reading.

    2. Censorship isnt a boundry its a prison. Those homes are on fire and the sheriffs office wants to have controll of when people find out. That is censorship and doesnt give an accurate account of how we are doing on the fire, to those that are most invested in this.

  10. With current wx. Conditions and the fact that sometimes fires this big can even create there own wx. Conditions I think that the efforts to this point by everyone has been excellent ! Thank you to all! We live in the mountains for a reason but one has to be realistic about the dangers as well!

  11. I have herd of a website that can show me up 2 minute satellite pictures of my home up buckhorn canyon. Dose anyone by chance know it? No one will tell me if the ranch is ok or go up. I’m going as crazy as everyone else is. And want 2 hopefully reasure other friends and family there homes r safe or not.

  12. Thanks for all your info, Bill. Heading to Ft Collins Thurs for unrelated event-However, I have cousins who are evacuated from this fire and will see if they have any commentary.

    Re: photos of homes. As you know, the Alabaugh fire burned on our property in 2007. The ‘not knowing’ was one of the hardest parts. We & friends all searched all the TV news, the online stories, the papers, any info from firefighters to get a glimpse or rumor of the status of our homes. So-as a homeowner who has been through evacuation, I welcomed the coverage. With many neighbors losing their homes, I can say that all of them I had contact with starting receiving comfort and tender care before they ever had to go to their property and see their loss. Just a personal comment..

  13. My heart and prayers go out to all parties affected by the fires. Viewing the photos brings back all the memories of last years wildfires in Texas. Particularly hard hit was Bastrop and the surrounding areas. Many acres of forested lands, parks and homes were claimed by the blazes.

    Good luck and Godspeed from Houston.

  14. I was able to definitively find out my home and all buildings burned on a website of aerial photography called i-cubed. After I told a few neighbors about it, they disabled the ability to zoom in to property-level. A lot of survivors think the fire skipped their homes but retardant was clearly dropped on their homes. Who decides where the retardant will be dropped in a high park fire-like scenario?

    1. Sorry for your loss.

      If retardant was applied to your neighbors’ homes, it is possible that it was applied to your home as well.

      An intense enough fire will burn right through the retardant as the heat will overwhelm the carbon insulating coating effect created on the wood/plant material.

      The air attack officer circling overhead will communicate with the guys on the ground to develop the air attack strategy to support the ground efforts. It is a team effort (air and ground) to put the air drops where they will do the most good.

      Normally a retardant drop near a home is not usually sufficient to protect it. The retardant may reduce the fire intensity enough that a structure protection team on the ground can safely defend the home.

      Sorry they couldn’t save your home.

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