Wildfire activity increases in Colorado

Fires western Colorado
Fires in western Colorado, July 31, 2018.

After having received some monsoonal moisture, Western Colorado apparently is drying a bit, and has quite a few active fires.

Below is information provided by the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center July 31, 2018. Some of the larger ones that are active are listed below, north to south.

Cabin Lake: 350 acres, 103 personnel. White River N.F. ICT3 (Thompson) 16 miles SE of Meeker, CO. Fuel model 4 and 10. Extreme fire behavior with crowning, wind-driven runs and spotting. Residential structures and powerlines threatened. Road, trail and area closures in effect.

Red Canyon: 1,500 acres; 136 personnel. White River BLM. ICT4 (Jacob) 45 miles SW of Meeker, CO. Fuel model 5 and 2. Moderate fire behavior with running, uphill runs and spotting. Residential structures, oil and gas infrastructure and FAA Tower threatened. SWA IMT (Andrews) transition of command anticipated 2400 7/30.

Cache Creek: 325 acres; 50 personnel. White River N.F. ICT3 (Spetter/Ottoson(T)) 8 miles SW of Rifle, CO. Fuel model 10. Moderate fire behavior with single tree torching, group torching and long-range spotting. Oil and gas infrastructure, watershed and private timber interests threatened. RMA IMT2 (Esperance) in-brief 2000 7/30.

Lake Christine: has been burning since July 3, 2018. 12,588 acres, 313 personnel. Eagle County. RMA IMT2 (Greer). One mile NW of Basalt, CO. Fuel model 8 and 2. Minimal fire behavior with smoldering and creeping. Threat to residential structures, private inholdings and high voltage transmission lines, communications infrastructure, water supply infrastructure, commercial airline corridor. Road, area and trail closures in effect. Transfer of command to local IMT3 (Anderson) planned for 7/31. Expected containment 8/2.

Buttermilk:  671 acres, (no more information)

Plateau: 1,200 acres, 87 personnel. San Juan N.F. ICT3 (Seekins/Stark (T)). 13 miles N of Dolores, CO. Fuel model 10 and 2. Moderate fire behavior with short range spotting, isolated torching, group torching and wind driven runs. Road and area closures in effect.

Report released for entrapments on Horse Park Fire

Above: photo from the report.

Additional information has been released about the entrapments that occurred on the Horse Park Fire May 27 in a remote area of Southwest Colorado. Earlier we posted two videos that were shot when firefighters hurriedly retreated as the fire advanced, plus information from a “72-hour report”.

Now a 56-page Facilitated Learning Analysis and a 12-minute video are available that break down the incident in even more detail.

To very briefly summarize what happened, while scouting a road for a potential burnout operation, a hotshot crew superintendent and foreman encounter a wall of flames and attempt to retreat. Their truck becomes stuck, forcing them to flee on foot, narrowly escaping the rapidly advancing fire front. Just as they reach safety, they learn that their crew lookout is missing. After nearly 40 agonizing minutes, the lead plane pilot locates her after she ignited an escape fire. It is a compelling story, which is pretty well summed up in this video.

The 56-page report only has one recommendation:Recommendation horse park fire

Colorado developing drone system to enhance situational awareness

The state of Colorado is working on a system that would use drones to provide live video of wildfires to wildland firefighters’ cell phones. The Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting is beta testing a DVI Mavic drone that would push the real time video to firefighters using software developed by the military, Android Team Awareness Kit (ATAK).

The program has the capability of displaying data from tracking devices carried by soldiers, or firefighters, and identifying their location on a map, which in this case could also show the fire in real time.

If they are successful in developing and implementing a system that can provide to fire managers real time information about the location of a wildfire AND firefighting resources, it would achieve what we call the Holy Grail of Wildland Firefighter Safety — knowing those two elements of information.

The DJI Mavic can only stay in the air for 20 to 30 minutes before having to return to base to replace the battery. So this beta test is probably only a proof of concept attempt, perhaps leading to a more robust drone, rotor or fixed wing, that could stay in the air for a much longer period of time.

Colorado's Pilatus PC12 N327F
“https://wildfiretoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/PilatusPC12.jpg”> One of the two State of Colorado’s Pilatus PC12’s, was photographed in March of 2016 in Sacramento.[/captio
Colorado already has the ability to transmit near real time imagery of fires from their two MultiMission Aircraft, Pilatus PC12’s. They are integrated with the Colorado Wildfire Information System, a geospatial database that displays incident images and details to local fire managers through a web based application.

Tornado observed near Weston Pass fire in Colorado

Tornado Weston Pass Fire
Tornado near the Weston Pass Fire. Photo by Wellington Fire Department, @WellingtonFire1.

Wildland firefighters have enough to worry about,  but Thursday a tornado briefly touched down just south of the Weston Pass Fire, then while receding back into the cloud it moved directly over the fire.

Tornadoes are very rare in this part of the country. According to the National Weather Service office in Boulder, it was the 6th confirmed tornado in Park County since records began in 1950.

Chief Meteorologist/Climatologist for 11 News in Colorado Springs, said “No, this isn’t a firewhirl, it is a legit tornado produced by a thunderstorm that moved across the Weston Pass Fire.”

The Weston Pass Fire has burned about 13,000 acres 9 miles southwest of Fairplay, Colorado.

Tornado Weston Pass Fire
Tornado near the Weston Pass Fire. Photo by Wellington Fire Department, @WellingtonFire1.

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

Evacuations ordered for Lake Christine Fire at Basalt, Colorado

Tracer rounds used at a shooting range started the fire, officials said

Above: The Lake Christine Fire, Wednesday night. Photo: Katie Baum Hueth, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

(UPDATED at 8:19 a.m. MDT July 5, 2018)

Mandatory evacuations are in effect in several locations for the Lake Christine Fire that is burning between Basalt and El Jebel, Colorado 15 air miles southeast of Glenwood Springs.

The fire started July 3 from tracer ammunition being used by shooters near Basalt.

Fire officials estimated Thursday morning it has burned approximately 4,900 acres.

map lake christine fire
Map showing the location of the Lake Christine Fire between Basalt and El Jebel, Colorado, updated at 9:45 a.m MDT July 5, 2018.

Below is a time-lapse showing the growth of the fire on July 4. Continue reading “Evacuations ordered for Lake Christine Fire at Basalt, Colorado”

Spring Creek Fire becomes third largest in state history

It has burned approximately 94,093 acres, displacing the High Park Fire for the number three position.

Above: A DC-10 drops retardant on the Spring Creek Fire. Undated photo by Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

(UPDATED at 12:37 p.m. MDT July 5, 2018)

The Spring Creek Fire was very active Wednesday and Wednesday night spreading in a direction we have not seen very often since the fire started June 27. It spread rapidly on the northwest side running two to four miles west of Pass Creek Road working its way up Iron Mountain. It is unknown how far it may have continued after reaching the top. Clouds made it difficult to get good infrared data in that area.

The fire has burned approximately 103,000 acres as of early Thursday morning.

map spring creek fire
3-D map of the northwest section of the Spring Creek Fire, looking north, showing data from 12:46 a.m. MDT July 5, 2018.

Here is the outlook provided by the Incident Management Team:

Atmospheric moisture will continue to increase through the end of the week. However, given the current fuel conditions, the fire will continue to follow heavy continuous fuels to the north towards Gardner, the northeast towards Badito, to the east towards Three Bridges, to the south towards Cuchara and Indian Creek regardless of general wind direction. Potential for scattered thunderstorm activity which can cause gusty outflow winds in any direction.


(Originally published at 8:11 a.m. MDT July 4, 2018)

The Spring Creek Fire in southern Colorado between La Veta and Fort Garland added another 15,000 acres Tuesday to become the third largest in the recorded history of the state after Tuesday night’s mapping estimated that it has burned approximately 94,093 acres. A partial cloud cover made 100% precision impossible.

The five largest:

  1. Hayman Fire in 2002, 137,760 acres, NW of Colorado Springs
  2. West Fork in 2013, 110,405 acres, Wolf Creek Pass
  3. Spring Creek in 2018, 94,093 acres (preliminary mapping, still spreading) La Veta
  4. High Park Fire in 2012, 87,284 acres, west of Ft. Collins
  5. Missionary Ridge Fire in 2002, 71,739 acres, Durango

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

Continue reading “Spring Creek Fire becomes third largest in state history”