October 24, 2020 | 11:38 p.m. MDT
The East Troublesome Fire near Estes Park, at this point is the second largest fire in the recorded history of Colorado. The top three all burned this year.
- Cameron Peak, 2020, 206,977 acres
- East Troublesome, 2020, 188,389 acres
- Pine Gulch, 2020, 139,007 acres
- Hayman Fire, 2002, 138,144 acres
During the wind event that is unfolding as this is being written, it is conceivable that the East Troublesome Fire could become the largest. For a fire this size, over 188,000 acres, it has a relatively small number of firefighters assigned, 424 as of Saturday morning. The nearby Cameron Peak Fire has 1,903 personnel and that fire has taken over the portion of the East Troublesome Fire east of the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Wildland fire resources are scarce this time of the year with many crews losing their funding in September and October. Of the 113 Interagency Hotshot Crews in the U.S., only about 35 are still funded and available for fighting fire. In two weeks that number drops to around 13 according to projections in a planning document compiled September 30, 2020 by an Area Command Team (ACT).
The functions of Scott Jalbert’s ACT that is in Colorado now is to provide decision support to Multi-Agency Coordination Groups for allocating scarce resources and help mitigate the span of control for the local Agency Administrator. They also ensure that incidents are properly managed, coordinate team transitions, and evaluate Incident Management Teams.
The western fire season is long from being over. Red Flag Warnings are in effect on Saturday or Sunday in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and California. Weather forecasters expect winds could reach 100 mph in some exposed areas in California’s North Bay and East Bay on Sunday, while other nearby locations could see winds up to 40 mph.