Video describes how fire in Colorado was managed to enhance forest health

Doe Fire video
Screengrab from the video below.

This video uploaded to YouTube on July 3, 2019 describes how the Doe Canyon Fire in Southwest Colorado was managed to enhance forest health.

It is interesting how the U.S. Forest Service has been recently using the term “good fire”. They probably think it means more to the public than some of the descriptions heard in the past, such as “fire managed for resource benefit”.

The agency is also increasingly using professional quality videos, like the National Park Service has done for years in South Florida, to educate the public about how they manage fire dependent ecosystems.

Fire southwest of Denver causes evacuations

Deer Creek Canyon Park Fire Colorado
Screenshot from the ABC7 video below of the Deer Creek Canyon Park Fire southwest of Denver.

A wildfire that broke out Thursday at 4:30 p.m MDT caused evacuations to be ordered southwest of Denver. It was named “Deer Creek Canyon Park Fire” after the park by the same name. The fire appeared to have ignited about 250 feet south of a fire station for the Inter-Canyon Fire Protection District along Grizzly Drive south of 124. (see map below)

The video below shows the fire burning with a slow rate of spread through heavy brush, but it slowed even more when reaching grassy areas that still had a green component.

The closest structures that were affected by the evacuation are very large homes, most but not all with defensible space. Stacy Martin, Public Information Officer for the fire, said Friday at 9 a.m. that no residents took advantage of the designated evacuation shelters. The evacuation was still in effect Friday at 9 a.m. but she said fire officials hope to rescind the order “soon”.

Overnight the relative humidity rose to over 80 percent which along with a wind shift dampened the spread of the fire.

map Deer Creek Canyon Park Fire Colorado
Map showing the location of the Deer Creek Canyon Park Fire.

Ms. Martin said the fire burned an estimated 20 to 25 acres and is surrounded by a hose lay. The 33-minute Denver 7 video below did not record any aircraft working the fire. A helicopter will be available today that flew in from Montrose, Colorado Thursday night. Approximately 130 firefighters have been assigned.

A spokesperson for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department said the fire was human-caused, but that just means it was not started by lightning or a volcano. He said an explosion was heard around the time it started and juveniles were seen running in the area.

Deer Creek Canyon Park Fire Colorado
Deer Creek Canyon Park Fire. Photo by Jefferson County Sheriff Office.
Deer Creek Canyon Park Fire Colorado
. Photo by Jefferson County Sheriff Office.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Video honors the 14 memorial sites on Storm King Mountain

25 years ago 14 firefighters were killed on the South Canyon Fire in Colorado

Storm King Mountain
Screengrab from the video below by Outside Adventure Media.

Today, July 6, is the 25th anniversary of the fatalities on the South Canyon Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. In 1994, 14 firefighters were overrun by the fire on Storm King Mountain.

A trail leads to the spots where each of them were found. Granite markers, 14 of them, have the firefighters’ names and their years of  birth — and death.

People who complete the strenuous hike to the 14 sites often leave something that to them, and perhaps to the deceased, had a special meaning.

During several trips to the mountain over the last couple of years Barry Stevenson of Outside Adventure Media shot video of the memorial sites. There is no narration or musical sound track. You will hear only the sounds of nature — birds, insects, and an occasional breeze.

The Storm King Mountain Memorial Trail honors the 14 hotshots, smoke jumpers, and helitack personnel who perished in the fire:

Kathi Beck, Tami 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.

For more information about the South Canyon Fire visit southcanyonfire.com.

Hallowed Ground. Storm King Mountain Memorial Trail from Outside Adventure Media.

statue south canyon fire glenwood springs colorado
A statue at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, honors the 14 firefighters. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

In the next video you will see the fire from the perspective of 11 firefighters that were there that day.

To learn more about the South Canyon Fire:

U.S. Government files suit against company alleging their coal burning train engine started the “416 Fire” in Colorado

The government is seeking to recover $25 million in costs for the 54,000-acre fire

 

416 fire Colorado
416 Fire. InciWeb.

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against a railroad company for starting what became the 54,129-acre “426 Fire” north of Durango, Colorado. The government is seeking to recover $25 million in suppression, damages, and rehab costs for the fire that started June 1, 2018 and burned actively for about 61 days. (See the map below.)

An investigation by the U.S. Forest Service determined that the fire was ignited by burning particles emitted from the exhaust on a coal-burning steam engine locomotive owned and operated by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and its owner and operator, American Heritage Railways, Inc.

map 416 fire Colorado
3-D map showing the perimeter of the 416 Fire north of Durango, Colorado, July 4, 2018. Looking northwest. Wildfire Today.

The United States asserts that because the fire was caused by the railroad company they should be held liable under federal and Colorado law for all the damages incurred by the United States as a result of the fire.

For years the company has been hauling tourists on a train pulled by the coal-burning engines on a 42-mile route between Durango and Silverton in southwest Colorado. Numerous fires have been attributed to the train. The Durango Herald studied seven of the fires that burned between 1994 and 2013 that investigators determined were started by the train. In these cases the railroad offered to pay much less than the amount billed by the Forest Service. The agency settled with the company, agreeing to allow payments of between 20 and 88 percent for the seven fires, averaging 53 percent of the billed amounts.

We assembled the data from the article and created the table below.

D&SNG payments for wildfires steam engine train
USFS data collected by the Durango Herald, collated by Wildfire Today.

If the Forest Service continues their trend of allowing the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Company to pay 53 percent of the suppression costs, they may settle for about $13 million.

In September, 2018 at least six local residents and business owners in the Durango, Colorado area filed a lawsuit against the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Company claiming the 416 Fire adversely affected tourism, causing a 5.6 percent drop in sales tax and a 13.2 percent drop in lodgers tax  over the same period in 2017.

The video below is an interview with Cres Fleming who was the second person on scene at the 416 Fire June 1, 2018.

The next video was filmed by pilot Jim Watson of GB Aerial Applications showing Air Tanker 850 on the 416 Fire June 13, 2018, working with John Ponts, Lead 51 trainee. Jim said, “The Heavies did the long runs while the Single Engine Air Tankers offered close air support by reinforcing weak areas such as this drop in the bottom of a drainage.”

Click here to see all articles on Wildfire Today about the 416 Fire.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Media day planned for firefighting aircraft at Colorado airport

The aircraft will make water drops but the public is not invited. Our opinion about this.

Air Tanker 23, a P3 Orion
File photo of Air Tanker 23, a P3 Orion. Airstrike Firefighters photo.

The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) is planning a media day on June 28 at Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland, Colorado (map). Two air tankers will be making demonstration drops — an Airstrike Firefighters P-3 Orion and a Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT). They will be dropping BLAZETAMER380, a water enhancing gel that looks similar to water when released by an air tanker.

The DFPC  has a summer-long exclusive use contract for the SEAT and a Call When Needed (CWN) contract for Airstrike’s large four-engine P3 air tankers.

The airborne demonstrations are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. MDT June 28, with static displays to follow.

The event is for the media, who will be escorted out to the ramps to get a close up look at the aircraft on static display. We were told by Shawn Battmer, the Airport Executive Assistant, that the public will not be allowed to approach the planes but may be able to see them through a fence near the Fort Collins-Loveland JetCenter. Mr. Battmer did not say anything about being able to see the water drops, but they will presumably be from 100 to 200 feet above the ground so sightseers may be able to find a spot where they get a good view of the demonstrations.

In August of last year the DFPC signed a CWN agreement with Airstrike Firefighters to provide large airtanker services for wildland fire suppression.  The agreement will allow the State of Colorado to access Airstrike’s P-3 airtankers to help combat wildfires in the State.

Airstrike Firefighters is making progress toward their goal of putting seven P3 Orion air tankers formerly owned by Aero Union back into service. The aircraft have not been used on a fire since the U.S. Forest Service canceled the Aero Union contract July 29, 2011 due to the company “failing to meet its contractual obligations”, according to the agency.

An Opinion:

The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control and the Northern Colorado Regional Airport are missing what could have been a grand public relations opportunity by not allowing the public to get close to the static displays of the aircraft. It will be a lost opportunity to educate the public about aerial firefighting. They could at least set up a designated location outside the secure fence where the taxpayers who fund these aircraft could be ENCOURAGED to see how their money is spent as the air tankers make their drops. And further, it would have been possible to allow the public to go 150 feet or so out onto the ramp where they could walk around the three of four aircraft and talk to the pilots and crews. Air shows do this, and the Aerial Firefighting Conferences at Sacramento, Europe, and Australia do it as well, allowing hundreds of people out on the ramp. Portable barriers could be set up and volunteers or wildland firefighters could ensure that the visitors stay within the established viewing areas.

As you can see in the photo below, it is possible for the media to record interviews while others walk around the aircraft.

Attendees at the Aerial Firefighting Conference in Sacramento were allowed within a designated area of the ramp to examine the aircraft and talk to the flight crews while the media was conducting interviews. Photo By Bill Gabbert, March 12, 2018.
tour 747 Supertanker
At the Aerial Firefighting Conference in Sacramento on March 12, 2018 people lined up to tour the 747 air tanker. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Firefighters report “surprising” fire behavior in beetle-attacked lodgepole forests

surprising fire behavior beetle-attacked lodgepole forest fires
The researchers interviewed senior firefighters who worked on 13 wildfires in beetle-attacked areas of Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming between 2010 and 2012. Image from the research. Click to enlarge.

In 28 interviews of experienced wildland firefighters of seven different agencies in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming researchers asked them about their observations of fire behavior in beetle-attacked lodgepole pine forests, with a focus on what they considered surprising from a fire behavior standpoint and how this in turn affected their suppression tactics. The interviews focused on 13 wildfires that occurred during the 2010 through 2012 fire seasons.

Below is an excerpt from a paper written by the researchers:

“The surprises in fire behavior experienced by firefighters during the red phase of post-outbreak forests included an elevated level of fire spread and intensity under moderate weather and fuel moisture conditions, increased spotting, and faster surface-to-crown fire transitions with limited or no ladder fuels.

“Unexpectedly, during the gray phase in mountain pine beetle-attacked stands, crown ignition and crown fire propagation was observed for short periods of time. Firefighters are now more likely to expect to see active fire behavior in nearly all fire weather and fuel moisture conditions, not just under critically dry and windy situations, and across all mountain pine beetle attack phases, not just the red phase. Firefighters changed their suppression tactics by adopting indirect methods due to the potential fire behavior and tree-fall hazards associated with mountain pine beetle-attacked lodgepole pine forests.”

Download the research paper (1 Mb)