Lion Fire burns more than 200 acres near Meeker, Colorado

Lion Fire
Lion Fire. Photo by Rio Blanco Co. Sheriff’s Office April 7, 2020.

The Lion Fire burned 229 acres near Lions Canyon Road 1.5 miles west of Meeker, Colorado on Tuesday. After being reported at about 1:30 p.m., it was attacked by the Meeker Volunteer Fire Department, BLM, and the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

By Tuesday evening firefighters had stopped the spread and were expected to be back on Wednesday to mop up.

Investigators determined that it started near a mobile home which was consumed in the fire. Several outbuildings and vehicles were also destroyed, according to Meeker Fire Chief Luke Pelloni.

At Wildfire Today we are giving a trial to a new mapping system created by Orora Technologies. It collects fire detection data from a growing list of satellites, eight at last count, and identifies heat generated by fires. On the map below the circles indicate that heat was detected somewhere within the circle. The red line automatically circumscribes a collection of detections, but is probably larger than the actual size of the burned area. In this example the heat was detected by the SUOMI-NPP satellite. We suggested that the size of the red polygon be automatically calculated, and they added it to their things to do list. The company has plans to launch their own satellites which would produce fire data more frequently.

Lion Fire Map Meeker Colorado wildfire
Map showing the approximate location of the Lion Fire 1.5 miles west of Meeker, Colorado. Data from Orora Technologies detected from 2:12 p.m. MDT April 7, to 2:30 a.m. MDT April 8, 2020.

An employee in Colorado’s EOC tests positive for COVID-19

One person in Colorado’s State Emergency Operations Center has tested positive for COVID-19. The information was revealed April 4 in a press release by Public Information Officer Micki Trost.

Daily medical screenings as used at the Center can only detect someone who is already infected, at which point they may have been shedding the virus for days. This is probably the tip of the iceberg. Without widespread and repeated testing there may be many infected but asymptomatic individuals working in emergency services.

Share with us in a comment how your workplace is attempting to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Below is the information from the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center.

Colorado State EOC

Unified Command Group Member Tests Positive to COVID19

Centennial, Colo. – April 4, 2020 – Today a member of the Colorado Unified Command Group (UCG) working at the State Emergency Operations Center tested positive for COVID-19. The staff member went through daily medical screenings and was asymptomatic until April 4 when symptoms started. The staff member then contacted executive leadership and self-isolated pending testing arrangements. Test results are positive.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is conducting a full epidemiological investigation to evaluate the level of exposure in the UCC. Staff members at the facility were notified tonight. All staff were asked to:

1) Evaluate whether or not they worked in the same area of the facility in the last 48 hours following public health guidance for possible exposures.
2) Inform supervisors if they had contact or worked near the person before transitioning to remote work following CDPHE guidelines to self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms twice daily (including measuring your temperature) for 14 days.
3) If staff were not in close contact with the member they will monitor symptoms daily for the next 14 days. Asymptomatic staff will report to work as previously assigned. Symptomatic staff will stay home and inform supervisors at the UCC.

For the protection of all staff members the UCC has a decontamination service clean the facility each evening. The decontamination has been in place for the last two weeks. This will continue.

Monday the UCC will conduct twice daily medical screening, once in the morning and again mid-day. Daily health screenings were implemented at the beginning of March.

Three fires in Jefferson County Colorado cause evacuations

At least 50 acres burned

Jefferson County Fire Colorado
Three fires occurred March 17 along SW Platte River Road near Foxton in Jefferson County, Colorado. Jefferson County Sheriff photo.

Three fires that started Tuesday afternoon caused evacuations on SW Platte River Road near Foxton in Jefferson County, Colorado about 20 miles southwest of Denver.

At least 50 acres burned, but evacuations were lifted by 7:13 p.m. MDT except for River Road and Resort Creek Road.

The cause of the fires is under investigation.

Jefferson County Fire Colorado
Three fires occurred March 17 along SW Platte River Road near Foxton in Jefferson County, Colorado. Screenshot from CBS4 video in Denver.

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

Report released for escaped prescribed fire northwest of Fort Collins, CO

The project was on private land, the Ben Delatour Scout Ranch

Elk Fire Map
Map showing the location of the escaped prescribed fire in northern Colorado, which was named Elk after the escape.

A five-page report described as an executive summary has been released for a prescribed fire that escaped on private land last fall in Colorado. As required by state law, the review was completed by a team of subject matter experts led by the Compliance and Professional Standards Office of the state’s Department of Public Safety.

The Nature Conservancy planned and executed the Elkhorn Creek Unit #4 prescribed fire that took place on the Ben Delatour Scout Ranch, private property located in Larimer County, Colorado 25 miles northwest of Fort Collins. It was part of a forest restoration effort aimed to reduce the impact of high severity wildfire on Elkhorn Creek, an important tributary of the Poudre River.

On day two of the project a spot fire occurred an hour after cloud cover moved out of the area. It was suppressed, but later two more ignited.

Below are excerpts from the report:

Located in dry, dead grass on a steep slope aligned with strong westerly winds, these two spots quickly grew together and began spreading rapidly away from the unit towards the Glacier View community to the east. Leadership personnel, quickly determining that on-site resources would not be able to contain the fire, immediately ordered ground and aerial resources and then declared the wildfire at 3:59 PM. In total, the fire burned 682 acres, with 118 acres outside of the planned boundaries of the project and 82 acres off the Scout Ranch property. One outbuilding was destroyed by the fire.


Recommendations for All Prescribed Fire Practitioners

1.  A strong understanding of fire weather is critical to mitigating risk and responding to changing conditions. Review fire weather concepts presented in the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) Intermediate Wildland Fire Weather Behavior (S-290) course and fire weather data acquisition and analysis concepts presented in the NWCG Intermediate National Fire Danger Rating System (S-491) course before each fire season utilizing an Incident Meteorologist (IMET), a Long Term Fire Analyst (LTAN), Fire Behavior Analyst (FBAN), or other knowledgeable individual, and incorporate these concepts into development of prescribed fire plans.

  • Review and remain diligent regarding the differences between 20-ft sustained 10 minute average winds, gusts, eye level, and midflame wind speeds.
  • Ensure on-site wind measurements are consistent with the type of wind parameters used in the prescribed fire plan, or ensure that accurate conversion techniques are accurately and consistently applied.

2. Apply “lessons re-learned” from the factors and best practices identified as being common between this prescribed fire and previous prescribed fires that were later declared wildfires.

Recommendations for The Nature Conservancy

3. Evaluate and refine the collaborative burning approach, including considerations for additional cooperative or partnership agreements to increase the experience level below that of overhead or trainee positions on high consequence prescribed fires.

4. Consider the full adoption of the DFPC Colorado Prescribed Fire Planning and Implementation Policy Guide as well as the Prescribed Fire Complexity Rating System Guide (NWCG PMS-424-1).

  • Adoption of these guides would increase consistency and support cooperation between The Nature Conservancy and DFPC and other Colorado partners.

Recommendations for the Division of Fire Prevention and Control

5. Evaluate all DFPC statutory and policy frameworks and craft solutions to align with all three co-equal goals of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy.

  • Changes to DFPC’s organizational focus and statutory authority may be necessary to reduce wildfire risk to communities and create resilient landscapes. In the face of an increasingly complex wildland fire environment, the ability to implement proactive measures must be part of a holistic strategy to reduce risk.


TBT – Waldo Canyon Fire

Waldo Canyon Fire
Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado Springs, CO, July 1, 2012; burn operation in Division Oscar-Papa (below Blodgett Peak) with Vandenberg Hotshots. USFS photo by Kari Greer.

Throwback Thursday –
On June 23, 2012 the Waldo Canyon Fire started in the Pike National Forest southwest of Colorado Springs, Colorado. On June 26 it spread into the Mountain Shadows area of the city. Before the fire was out, it had killed two people and burned 18,000 acres and 347 homes.

Waldo Canyon Fire
Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado Springs, CO, July, 2012; Mountain Shadows aftermath. USFS photo by Kari Greer.
Waldo Canyon Fire President Obama
The President at the Waldo Fire Incident Command Post, June 29, 2012. USFS photo by Kari Greer.

Cow Creek fire slowed by snow

The fire is 8 miles east of Ridgway, Colorado

Cow Creek Fire map 3-D
3-D map of the Cow Creek fire showing (in red) the perimeter at 12:27 a.m. MDT October 19, 2019. The white line was the perimeter about 48 hours before. Looking east.

Two to three inches of snow Saturday night slowed the spread of the Cow Fire 27 miles southeast of Montrose, Colorado (see map). Firefighters said the heavy vegetation in the fire area is still extremely dry.

The fire has burned at least 785 acres, but that figure has not been updated since Saturday morning because the mapping flight Saturday night was scrubbed due to strong winds.

In spite of the cooler temperatures and precipitation, they expect creeping, smoldering, and single tree torching on Sunday with the humidity in the 20s and a 13 mph northwest wind. After overnight temperatures in the teens at Ridgway Sunday night the forecast for Monday is 47 degrees, partly sunny, 10-13 mph west wind, and the humidity dropping into the 30s.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Cow Creek Fire, including the most recent, click here.)

The Rocky Mountain Type 2 Incident Management Blue Team with Incident Commander Mike Haydon assumed command Saturday at 7 p.m. after transitioning with the local Type 3 team.

Cow Creek Fire
Cow Creek Fire posted October 18, 2019 before two to three inches of snow. Photo by Josh Oak.

Firefighters will be monitoring backing fire activity on the southwest side of the fire as it moves downhill towards Cow Creek. On the north and northeast sides crews are scouting for locations to build fireline where it would be most successful should the fire advance. Firefighters have completed a fire line on the east side.

Cow Creek Fire map
Map of the Cow Creek fire showing the perimeter at 12:27 a.m. MDT October 19, 2019.