Wildfire burns 152 acres southwest of Denver

Evacuations that were ordered have been cancelled

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Air Tanker 861 (N803NZ) drops on the Oak Fire Dec. 27, 2021
Air Tanker 861 (N803NZ) drops on the Oak Fire Dec. 27, 2021. Still image from West Metro Fire video.

Monday afternoon December 27 a fire southwest of Denver burned 152 acres and prompted evacuations.

The Oak Fire was reported around 2 p.m. southwest of Columbine, southwest of the C470 highway which was temporarily closed. West Metro Fire said it started near the C470/Kipling intersection west of the Westerly Apartments in an open space area with several trails and heavy foot traffic. The specific cause is still under investigation. The evacuations were cancelled Monday evening.

Oak Fire, on the southwest side of Denver, Dec. 27, 2021
Oak Fire, on the southwest side of Denver, Dec. 27, 2021. Photo by West Metro Fire.

A single engine air tanker from CO Fire Aviation was mobilized from Fort Morgan, Colorado, flown by the company’s Chief Pilot Chris Doyle. It took off at 3:46 p.m. and 20 minutes later landed at Northern Colorado Regional Airport NCRA near Fort Collins to get a load of plain water which took about 10 minutes. It then made the 19-minute flight south to the fire where it quickly sized it up, dropped the water just before sunset, and returned to NCRA.

Flight path of Air Tanker 861 Oak Fire
Flight path of Air Tanker 861 (N803NZ) while working the Oak Fire Dec. 27, 2021. FlightAware.

The fire was driven by strong winds. Buckley Air Force Base on the east side of Denver recorded 22 to 28 mph out of the south with gusts to 35 while the relative humidity was in the high 20s with the temperature in the high 30s. However it was cooler on the other side of the city at a higher elevation near the fire, judging from the ice photographed on the air tanker’s landing gear.

Ice on the landing gear of Air Tanker 861
Ice on the landing gear of Air Tanker 861 after dropping water on the Oak Fire, Dec. 27, 2021. Photo by Chief Pilot Chris Doyle.

Precipitation in Colorado

Firefighters always get a lot of satisfaction conducting a mobile attack, as seen in the videos below. An engine drives near the edge of the fire while one or two firefighters operate nozzles while walking, sometimes one in front of the engine and another picking up what’s left behind the truck. Or a second engine could followup, making sure all the heat near the edge is extinguished.

Oak Fire, Dec. 28, 2021
Oak Fire, Dec. 28, 2021. Photo by West Metro Fire.

The video below has excellent footage showing flame lengths that are pretty impressive for a wildfire above 6,000 feet in Colorado on December 27.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Wildfire burns 152 acres southwest of Denver”

  1. I’ve worked with COFire pilots and aircraft, always found them to be a very professional organization with a strong safety culture from top to bottom.

  2. Not to be a Karen, but isn’t that the same operator who crashed a SEAT in strong winds on the Kruger Rock Fire last month. The winds were howling along the foothills again yesterday. They might want to re-evaluate their response protocols and safety culture.


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