Fire in Colorado’s Poudre River Canyon evacuates residents

A 7-acre wildfire in the area of Highway 14 and Arrowhead, according to a report by 9NEWS-TV, resulted in evacuations for residents of Poudre Canyon in Larimer County on Sunday afternoon.

Voluntary evacuations were issued for a stretch of the canyon; the Arrowhead Fire was reported by the Canyon Lakes Ranger District at 50 percent containment by late afternoon.

The Coloradoan reported that the fire was burning near the U.S. Forest Service’s Arrowhead Lodge visitor center, 34 miles west of Ted’s Place along Colorado Highway 14, also known as the Poudre Canyon Highway. The sheriff’s office issued evacuation notices from the Lodge east to Riverside Drive, and residents were told to gather essential items and prepare to evacuate. A Red Cross evacuation site was established at Cache La Poudre Middle School in Laporte, and a portion of Highway 14 was closed between Arrowhead Lodge and Rustic.


County commissioner in Glenwood Springs wants “climate” removed from wildfire agreement

Garfield County in west-central Colorado signed off this week on the new multi-agency Roaring Fork Wildfire Collaborative, but not without a little creative editing. The Post Independent reported that county commissioners signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) joining 17 other local governments, fire districts, and state and federal agencies in the formation of the wildfire collaborative.

“The Roaring Fork Valley presents especially complex boundaries with the sheer number of agencies involved,” said Larry Sandoval with the BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office. He said the completion of this MOU is a major step toward effective collaboration in fire prevention and management.

The request for edits to the MOU originated with Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky. “A lot of the emphasis is coming from Pitkin and Eagle counties and the Forest Service to do more forest management,” he said, “which from my perspective is more than just prescribed burns.” Jankovsky wanted the MOU to include equal mention of logging, thinning, and other “more aggressive” forest management methods. “I find it ironic that this group talks about climate change, yet they look at forest management as burning the forest, which has the same effect as if we have a forest fire, just to a much smaller degree,” Jankovsky explained.

A third-generation native Coloradan, Jankovsky is serving his third term as Garfield County Commissioner. He is the public lands planning lead for the Board of County Commissioners and the former general manager of Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs. He asked that the word “climate” be removed from one sentence in the MOU where it stated that active management “… includes the use of the best available climate science that will help stakeholders understand how a changing climate will impact our landscapes and ecosystems, while also looking for opportunities to improve understanding through local research.” Jankovsky wanted the line to read “best available science” and not “best available climate science.”

Fire photo by Colorado State Forest Service
Fire photo by Colorado State Forest Service

Because fires have no boundaries and don’t recognize jurisdiction lines, the valley-wide collaborative is meant to have everyone on the same page. The 18 local, county, state, and federal agencies involved in wildfire management formalized their working relationship through the Roaring Fork Valley Wildfire Collaborative; the Gunnison Times reported that talk of the collaborative started early 2022, when residents in the Roaring Fork River drainage discussed their interest in better fuels treatment. With several big fires in recent memory — the 2018 Lake Christine Fire, the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire, and the 2021 Sylvan Lake Fire — valley stakeholders began discussing solutions. The collaborative’s goals include improving communication and identifying critical areas of fuels reduction and vegetation treatment.

Signatories to the MOU are Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, and Marble. County signatories are Pitkin, Eagle, Garfield, and Gunnison counties. Additional collaborators include Aspen Fire, Roaring Fork Fire and Rescue, Carbondale Fire, Glenwood Springs Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, and the BLM.

The 2002 Hayman Fire was the largest wildfire in Colorado state history for nearly 20 years, until the Pine Gulch Fire surpassed it in August 2020. The Cameron Peak Fire became the largest wildfire in Colorado history seven weeks later at 206,667 acres. With multiple record-breaking fires, the 2020 Colorado wildfire season became the largest in state history after burning 665,454 acres.

Large-scale wildfires are becoming increasingly common in the U.S. as climate change accelerates; since 2000 an annual average of 70,072 wildfires have burned an annual average of 7 million acres across the country. According to research by the College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University, that’s more than double the annual average of 3.3 million acres burned in the 1990s, when a greater number of fires occurred annually. A 2016 study found that climate change had doubled the number of large fires between 1984 and 2015 in the western U.S., and a 2021 study supported by NOAA concluded that climate change has been the main driver of the increase in fire weather each season.

Report released for the Marshall Fire which destroyed 1,056 structures southeast of Boulder, Colorado

Marshall Fire FLA

On the morning of December 30, 2021 the Marshal Fire ignited south of Boulder, Colorado. Pushed by winds gusting well over 40 mph, hurricane strength in some areas, it burned through subdivisions destroying 1,056 structures. By late the next day the winds had decreased and it was snowing on the 6,080-acre blaze.

At the request of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control a Facilitated Learning Analysis has been completed. The very lengthy and detailed document is in the Storymap format, which in this case includes many illustrations, photos, and maps.

Marshall Fire, Louisville, Colorado, by WxChasing/Brandon Clement
Marshall Fire, Louisville, Colorado. Photo by WxChasing/Brandon Clement, Dec. 31, 2021.

Topics covered are weather, fuels, fire behavior, communication, ordering, evacuations, utilities, animal rescue, and hospital evacuation. It contains a wealth of information that could aid communities planning to prevent similar damage from inevitable wildfires, and manage them after they start.

Marshall Fire structures
Map of structures damaged or destroyed during the Marshall Fire which started December 30, 2021 near Boulder, Colorado. Map accessed 10 a.m. MST January 7, 2021.

Nearly 40,000 lightning strikes in CO, WY, SD, and NE

Lightning strikes during 24-hour period
Lightning strikes during 24-hour period ending at 6 a.m. Aug. 24, 2022. Lightning strike data from Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center.

During the 24-hour period ending at 6 a.m. Wednesday 39,421 lightning strikes were detected in parts of Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, and Nebraska. In many areas there was not a great deal of rain accompanying the lightning.

Precipitation during 24-hour period
Precipitation during 24-hour period ending at noon Aug. 24, 2022.

The weather forecast for Cheyenne, Wyoming on Wednesday is for 84 degrees, 12 mph winds out of the southeast, 30 percent cloud cover, and 22 percent relative humidity.

The satellite photo taken at 11:56 a.m. MDT on Wednesday shows partly cloudy skies over the general region.

Satellite photo, 11:56 a.m. MDT Aug. 24, 2022
Satellite photo, 11:56 a.m. MDT Aug. 24, 2022.

Beer company giving away flameless solar cookers to help prevent forest fires

Solar cooker campaign by Busch Light
Solar cooker campaign by Busch Light

Anheuser-Busch has come up with a unique way to promote one of their brands while also, perhaps, reducing the chances of an illegal campfire starting what could become a devastating wildfire.

The company is giving away in certain areas of Colorado solar powered flameless cookers which supposedly can be used by campers to prepare a warm meal in a remote area.

“On average, 85% of forest fires are caused by humans and many of those man-made disasters are attributed to poorly attended campfires,” they wrote on their website. “That’s why Busch Light is distributing Busch Light Solar Cookers at the peak of Colorado camping season, offering a flame-free way to enjoy a warm meal and ice-cold beers with fire safety in mind.”

Website visitors can sign up for a chance to get a free cooker at local Colorado fire departments in Red Feather Lakes (August 19th), Nederland (August 26th), or Estes Park (September 2nd) through Labor Day weekend.

The cooker appears to be very similar to an item sold on Amazon for $41.


28 years ago eight firefighters survived the South Canyon Fire in their shelters

South Canyon memorial
South Canyon Fire memorial in Two Rivers Park, Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Today marks the 28th anniversary of the entrapment and death of 14 firefighters on the South Canyon Fire who were overrun by the fire on Storm King Mountain near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Those firefighters were Kathi Beck, Tamera Bickett, Scott Blecha, Levi Brinkley, Robert Browning, Doug Dunbar, Terri Hagen, Bonnie Holtby, Rob Johnson, Jon Kelso, Don Mackey, Roger Roth, Jim Thrash, and Richard Tyler.

Barry Stevenson of Outside Adventure Media produced the short video below that looks at an often overlooked part of the event — the eight smokejumpers further uphill who took refuge in their fire shelters for two hours as the fire burned around them.

If you have not seen it already, be sure and watch the excellent lessons learned video about the South Canyon Fire titled Everyone Goes HomeIt includes numerous interviews of wildland firefighters who were involved with, or were on scene during the entrapment and deaths of the 14 firefighters.

For more information about the South Canyon Fire visit