Structures lost as Spring Creek Fire in southern Colorado burns 4,000 acres

The Spring Creek Fire in Costilla County, Colorado. Photo courtesy Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Field Manager via San Luis Valley Twitter.

(UPDATED at 8:51 a.m. MDT June 29 2018 by Bill Gabbert)

Updated information provided by the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center reported that the Spring Creek Fire has burned 14,424 acres. However infrared data from a fixed wing aircraft that flew the fire at 9:35 p.m MDT on June 28 showed that the fire was significantly larger. The convection column of smoke made it difficult for the equipment to map accurately as it avoided plumes and bounced around. Other information collected by a satellite at 3:36 a.m. also showed that the fire was very active on the east and southeast sides and that it could be much larger as than the last official estimate by the RMCC.

CLICK HERE to see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Spring Creek Fire.

There are reports that the fire has crossed and required the closure of Highway 160, the main highway between Walsenburg and Alamosa.

The early information was that the name of the fire was “Spring”, but the official name is “Spring Creek”

Spring Creek Fire
Map showing heat detected by a satellite over the Spring Creek Fire 3:36 a.m. MDT June 29. The data may not be as accurate as desired due to the intensity of the plume. It is possible that the hole in the middle of the fire burned and cooled before the overflight.

Shane Greer’s Type 2 Incident Management Team was scheduled to assume command at 6 a.m. on June 29.

The area is under a Red Flag Warning on Friday, bringing a high potential for rapid spread. Thursday the fire was exhibiting extreme fire behavior with running, torching, crowning and spotting a quarter of a mile ahead. Evacuations  were in progress and multiple residences are threatened.

(Originally published at 11:01 a.m. MDT June 28, 2018 by Jason Pohl)

A wind-driven wildfire in Red Flag conditions blackened an estimated 4,000 acres by Thursday night in southern Colorado, officials said.

The Spring Creek Fire is burning between Walsenburg and Fort Garland in Costilla County, not far from the New Mexico border.  While officials have said structures were damaged and destroyed since the fire started Wednesday, it was not immediately clear how extensive the devastation was.

According to The Denver Post:

“There have been structures lost,” said Linda Smith, spokeswoman for the San Luis Valley Emergency Operations Center. “I do not know whether they were homes. I do know there are a lot of homes in that area.”

Officials declared a disaster for the area Wednesday night.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

A Red Flag Warning is in place for Friday as much of the region continues to experience record high temperatures.

Saddleworth Moor fire in England contained; hot temperatures to linger

Firefighters work to contain a wildfire the scorched hundreds of acres on Saddleworth Moor, near Manchester in the United Kingdom. Photo courtesy Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

Firefighters in the United Kingdom have contained a wildfire burning through the rolling, grassy hills near Manchester, but prolonged hot weather is setting the stage for an unusually active fire season in Britain.

The fires have burned since Sunday on Saddleworth Moor east of Manchester. The location — and rarity— of fires in the area has led to some stunning photos, too.

On Thursday, soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS) arrived to provide to support to the approximately 100 Greater Manchester firefighters in Tameside. The fire was said to have burned approximately 2,000 acres, and residents who had been forced from their homes have been allowed to return.

“To have the support of the Armed Forces is extremely pleasing and I know that firefighters will be very appreciative of their help in tackling the multiple fires we are dealing with,” Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony Hunter said Thursday.

“We have not seen any indication of any rainfall, so this incident is likely to be prolonged for a number of days,” he added. “The fire is contained at the moment, but we only need a change of wind direction to see the fire increase. We are working hard to keep on top of the blaze.”

Temperatures in Manchester have been above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, 10-15 degrees above normal for this time of year based on historical averages.

“The scale of this fire is staggering, and the damage to precious wildlife and unique habitat is unimaginable. There’s lots of speculation about the cause and that is a matter for police and fire service investigation,” said Richard Bailey, from the Peak District Moorland Group, in a statement.

“It is simply not correct for anyone to suggest that moorland management is at the root of this. The reason that this fire burned so fiercely is the extremely dry and hot weather conditions.”

Florida officials: Contractors to blame for prescribed burn that destroyed 36 homes, boats

A wildfire mitigation group contracted by the state of Florida is responsible for a weekend prescribed burn that got out of control and destroyed dozens of homes and several boats, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam on Wednesday announced that a burn conducted by Wildland Fire Services Inc. on behalf of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission caused the Sunday wildfire in Eastpoint, Florida over the weekend.

Fanned by high winds, the fire burned more than 800 acres and destroyed 36 homes in the small coastal community on the Florida panhandle.

Drone footage of the aftermath is available here. 

“My heart goes out to those affected by this devastating wildfire, and I thank all of our partners in the response effort to stop the spread of the fire,” Putnam said in a statement Wednesday.

The Florida Forest Service led response efforts to contain and control the wildfire with assistance from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Eastpoint Volunteer Fire Department, and other local fire departments.

The fire burned through the heavily wooded residential area Sunday near the edge of Tate’s Hell State Forest. No one was killed in the blaze itself, though one man who was trying to help during the evacuation suffered an apparent heart attack and died.

For obvious reasons, the news on Wednesday did not sit will with Franklin County residents. Reporters spoke with several in the area.

From the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper:

“I am so furious right now,” said April Dalton, who lives in the neighborhood hit by the wildfire. “There was a loss of life and damage because someone dropped the ball. Children and families are homeless now because someone did not do their job.”

Dalton said she and her husband escaped the blaze after rescuing their dogs, turning their chickens loose and wetting their house down with a hose. Her husband had to be treated for low oxygen and heat illness later.

John Matthew Polous, a shrimper and oysterman, lost 14 boats, his home and pickup trucks, the Associated Press reported.

“They finally admitted to what done it, now let’s see what they are going to do,” Polous, 51, said while walking through the burned remains of his home. “Why was they even burning this time of year back here? That don’t make sense, but they was and there’s nothing nobody can do about it.”

The Florida Forest Service was among those who joined in sharing an online fundraiser aimed at assisting those affected by the fire. More than $67,000 had been contributed by Thursday morning. The state is also planning on offering immediate financial assistance. 

Red Flag Warnings for Wednesday

Red Flag Warnings are in place across much of the West Wednesday and going into the weekend.

Increasingly gusty winds and single-digit relative humidities are forecast Wednesday and Thursday across much of the West, spurring a series of Red Flag Warnings.

The warnings affect swaths of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Arizona. Any wildfire starts could spread rapidly, the National Weather Service says.

Conditions could hinder some of the progress crews have made on the Pawnee Fire burning since Saturday in the Lake County hills northwest of Sacramento, California.

Wildfire concerns going into the weekend before July Fourth have already put a damper on some fireworks celebrations. Flagstaff, Arizona, has canceled their planned display, as have a number of other smaller cities across the state.


Pawnee Fire progress, but challenges predicted for weekend

Pawnee Fire off Pawnee Road and New Long Valley Road, northeast of Clearlake Oaks (Lake County), Courtesy CAL Fire via Twitter.

Firefighters on Tuesday made some progress on the lines of the Pawnee Fire in Northern California, but they’ll have their work cut out for them going into the weekend.

The blaze burning in Lake County charred approximately 13,000 acres as of Wednesday morning. While some areas saw fire growth Tuesday — roughly 1,500 additional acres burned, according to estimates — containment jumped to 17 percent by Tuesday night, CAL Fire reported.

“The fire burned very actively throughout the day in the Spring Valley area, north east of Clearlake Oaks in Lake County,” CAL Fire said in a Tuesday evening update. “The fire is being driven by low relative humidity, erratic winds and above normal temperatures. Expanded evacuation orders are in effect for the entire Spring Valley area and residents are reminded to heed all evacuation orders.”

A Fire Weather Watch kicks in Friday morning and will last through the weekend. Forecasters are calling for 20 mph north winds gusting to 35 mph and relative humidity levels as low as 10 percent, per the National Weather Service.

The Pawnee Fire is threatening upward of 600 structures, CAL Fire said.

Twenty-two have been destroyed.

News media on Tuesday accessed some of the areas where homes were destroyed in the days since the fire started Saturday afternoon northwest of Sacramento.

In terms of resources assigned to the Pawnee Fire as of Tuesday night:

  • Total Fire Personnel: 2,700
  • Total Fire Engines: 235
  • Total Fire Crews: 58
  • Total Helicopters: 15
  • Total Dozers: 69
  • Total Water Tenders: 25

As often accompanies disasters, including wildfires that regularly affect Northern California, scammers are at the ready.

“The FBI has received indications that fraudsters are using email and social-networking sites, including job search engines, to facilitate fraudulent activities,” according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office website.

The National Weather Services is calling for potentially dangerous fire conditions in Northern California going into the weekend.
The National Weather Services is calling for potentially dangerous fire conditions in Northern California going into the weekend.

Florida wildfire season underway; crews working multiple lightning-caused fires

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The Greenway Fire burned more than 6,000 acres in Florida as of Sunday, March 25, 2018. Photo: Greater Naples Fire Rescue

Spring has sprung, and so have wildfires in parched parts of Florida.

The Greenway Fire, burned 6,600 acres by Sunday afternoon and was 20 percent contained, according to Greater Naples Fire Rescue. A 17-acre spot fire was complicating efforts, and crews have worked to keep the blaze from reaching southwest Florida communities, including VeronaWalk and Winding Cypress.

“As long as wind conditions do not unexpectedly change, the outlook for these communities looks favorable as of this report,” fire officials said Sunday.

Elsewhere, the 116th Ave SE Fire was listed at 8,000 acres and 45 percent contained Sunday, per the the Caloosahatchee Forestry Center. This fire is moving toward the Flag Pond Fire, which burned 2,600 acres and was 100 percent contained Sunday — at least one occupied RV/home was destroyed, officials said.

Each of the fires was caused by lightning, officials said.

The Florida Forest Service and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office were assisting in the effort, with teams conducting water drops in the area.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service last week urged Floridians to exercise caution due to significantly heightened wildfire risk throughout the state. Despite recent rainfall, drought conditions throughout the state are expected to continue — the Florida Forest Service has worked more than 700 wildfires across the state since the start of this year 2018.

“Florida’s wildland firefighters have proven time and again that they are prepared to put their lives on the line to keep Floridians safe,” Putnam said. “Floridians can do their part by keeping preventable human-caused wildfires at bay and preparing their families and homes for wildfire.”

Florida Fire Risk for Sunday, via Florida Forest Service website.