Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado Springs

Map of Waldo fire, Colorado Springs

The map of the Waldo Canyon fire above shows heat detected by a satellite at 3:35 a.m. June 24. 


UPDATE at 2:35 p.m. MT, June 24:

The map below shows information about the fire’s location from two sources. The red line is the product of an infrared mapping flight by an aircraft at 11:07 p.m. June 23. The squares with the dots represent heat detected by a satellite about four hours later at 3:35 a.m. June 24.

Map - Waldo fire


UPDATE at 12:52 p.m. MT, June 24

The Denver Post reported at 12:16 p.m. today that:

…Air resources consist of a helicopter with four helicopters on order. Two heavy air tankers and additional resources are on the way.

Surely this can’t be correct, that there is only one helicopter and no air tankers working on the fire.


UPDATE at 10:32 a.m. June 24:

We have confirmed that two Modular Airborne FireFighting Systems (MAFFS) C-130 air tankers have been activated. Jennifer Jones, a spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service, told us that the agency requested that the aircraft be in place between noon and 6 p.m. MT on Monday. This is the first time the MAFFS air tankers have been used this year.


9:16 a.m. MT, June 24, 2012

The Waldo Canyon fire west of Colorado Springs has burned approximately 2,500 acres, according to the City of Colorado Springs in a 6:12 a.m. MT update. That site and InciWeb will provide detailed information about the fire, including evacuation notices. However, the InciWeb web site has been having problems, probably due to a large number of people trying to find information about the fire.

There are no reports of any structures being lost.

The map of the fire we have here shows heat detected by satellites at 3:35 a.m. MT, June 24. It shows the fire being less than two miles from the Kissing Camels golf course and very close to Manitou Springs.

Approximately 1,050 homes have been evacuated. Garden of the Gods Park and Garden of the Gods Visitor Center are closed.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team was ordered within a few hours of the first report of the fire. A Type 1 IMTeam is the largest and most qualified team that manages wildfires and other all-hazard incidents.

We are checking on an unconfirmed report that at least one military Modular Airborne FireFighting Systems (MAFFS) C-130 aircraft has been activated. Two are based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs 11 miles from the Waldo Canyon fire. Through yesterday, none of the eight MAFFS around the country had been used on fires this year.

We will post more information about the Waldo Canyon fire later. Check back with us for more details.

Firefighters in Colorado are working 8 large wildfires

Map of Colorado wildfires, June 23, 2012

The map of Colorado shows eight large wildfires that are keeping firefighters in the state busy today. (Map: Google/MODIS/Wildfire Today)

10:15 p.m. MT, June 23, 2012

New fires reported today include:

  • State Line Fire, near Bondad
  • Waldo Canyon Fire, west of Colorado Springs. Estimated at 2,000 acres at 9 p.m. Saturday night. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered. Approximately 1,050 homes have been evacuated.
  • Treasure Fire, east of Leadville
  • Woodland Heights Fire, near Estes Park, 21 structures confirmed damaged.

There is not a great deal of information available about these new fires, but here are some resources to check:

More excellent National Guard photos of High Park Fire

Minden's Tanker 48 drops High Park fire June 19, 2012
Minden’s Tanker 48 drops on High Park fire June 19, 2012. Photo by Colorado National Guard.

The Colorado National Guard continues to supply great photos taken at the High Park Fire west of For Collins, Colorado. Keep up the great work, folks! (I hope they remember to include the photographers’ names with the captions.)

High Park fire, June 19, 2012
High Park fire, June 19, 2012. Photo by Colorado National Guard
Firefighters walking to dinner at the High Park fire
Firefighters on their way to dinner at the Incident Command Post at the High Park fire. Photo by Colorado National Guard.
Burning timber at the High Park fire
Kansas crew members observe the area as they fly to their designated location with a Bambi bucket full of water to help at the High Park fire in Larimer County, Colo., approximately 15 miles west of Fort Collins, June 19, 2012. (Photo by Sgt. Ryan Kohlman, Company G, 2nd-135th General Support Aviation Battalion)


Relief fund established for volunteer firefighters working on High Park fire

Five volunteer firefighters with the Rist Canyon Fire Department had their homes burn and one of the department’s fire stations was destroyed during the High Park fire west of Fort Collins, Colorado. A relief fund has been established, all of which will be used for assisting firefighters, supporting the all-volunteer fire department, and replacing the volunteer’s lost wages while they have been fighting the fire. The Rist Canyon FD is one of two departments in Colorado that receives no mandated tax support according to NorthFortyNews. All of their funding comes from donations and fund raising events such as selling a cookbook.

You can donate at the Department’s web site through PayPal or send a check (payable to RCVFD) to Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department, Fire Relief Fund, PO BOX 2, Bellvue CO 80512. Contributions are tax deductible.

Those people who don’t feel moved to donate money can go to a Facebook page created by 14-year old Arianna Van Fleet and express their gratitude to the first responders by leaving a comment or “liking” the page.

Colorado Sheriff Justin Smith continues to restrict media coverage of High Park fire

High Park fire as seen from ICP
Smoke from the High Park Fire seen from the Incident Command Post at the Colorado National Guard Readiness Center near Fort Collins, Colo. (Official Army National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Skye Robinson) (Released)

Justin Smith, the County Sheriff of Larimer County, is continuing to restrict media coverage of the High Park fire west of Fort Collins, Colorado. On June 11 we covered Sheriff Smith’s request that the media not show photos of destroyed homes out of respect to the homeowners. That request was generally ignored by news outlets.

Nick Christensen, executive officer for the sheriff’s department, was quoted recently as saying, “Our philosophy is the citizens need to see the damage and destruction before the general public.”

Sheriff Smith claims he can decide what the media can cover and what they can’t cover, and not just for the safety of the reporters. That is a great deal of power to put in the hands of a county sheriff.

Colorado law puts the county sheriff in charge of fires on state and private land in unincorporated areas if the fire exceeds the capacity of a single fire department. Other states see it differently, putting an agency that specializes in fire suppression in charge of fires. Texas also has an archaic system, and puts a County Judge in charge of fires in some areas.

Here are some excerpts from a June 20 AP story about Sheriff Smith’s restrictions on media coverage:

…Journalists say the Colorado restrictions are too strict and hurt their ability to report.

“I’m sympathetic to their desire to help the victim,” said Joey Bunch, a reporter for The Denver Post. “I’m not sympathetic to their desire to control what’s going on.”

Bunch, a 27-year-veteran who has covered numerous natural disasters, said the Larimer sheriff’s restrictions are “the most concerted effort I’ve seen to get between the press and the victims.”

At some previous wildfires in Colorado and in other states, authorities have escorted news media into evacuation zones before residents or the general public was allowed in, sometimes while the fire is still active.

With the current fire, “They’re robbing the victims of the chance to tell their story,” Bunch said. “The larger public isn’t being able to fully appreciate the size of the fire and the size of the tragedy because the story isn’t being told.”

Fire management teams routinely try to get journalists safe access to fires to get the news out, said Mike Ferris, a public information officer for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

“Generally, I’ll do everything I can to get you access to get your story,” he said.

Rules for media access vary from state to state and even from wildfire to wildfire. In California, state law allows news organizations virtually unfettered access to fires. Other states leave the decisions up to the agency responsible for the land involved…


…In one incident, the sheriff’s department withheld for 24 hours a video recording, made by a fire official inside the evacuation zone using an NBC News camera and tape. NBC News producer Jack Chesnutt said he thought he would get the tape back immediately to share with other news outlets.

Christensen, the sheriff’s executive officer, said the department always intended to show the video to evacuated residents before returning it.

“These are not the conditions that I thought we had agreed to when we handed them the camera,” Chesnutt said. He called the High Park Fire coverage restrictions “unprecedented.”…

Thanks go out to Paul and Dick

National Guard photos of the High Park fire

National Guard Bambi bucket
Nebraska National Guard crewmembers of Company C 2nd-135th General Support Aviation Battalion dump water from a Bambi bucket onto flames of the High Park Fire, June 18, 2012. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tate Petersen, Company C, 2nd-135th General Support Aviation Support)

The National Guard has deployed Blackhawk helicopters from several states to the High Park Fire near Fort Collins, Colorado. Additionally Guardsmen from Colorado are augmenting the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department to provide assistance in securing evacuated areas. They posted these photos to Flicker, and some of them, especially the one above showing a rare view from a helicopter while dropping water, are exceptionally good.

Fire seen through Blackhawk door
Kansas Guardsmen Sgt. Sheldon Snodgrass, a flight instructor with Company G, 2nd-135th General Support Aviation Battalion, observes the High Park Fire in Larimer County, Colo., approximately 15 miles west of Fort Collins while out on a Bambi bucket mission to help provided structure protection, June 15, 2012. (Photo by Sgt. Ryan Kohlman, Company G, 2nd-135th General Support Aviation Battalion)
Firefighters on Highway
High Park Fire, June 18, 2012. (Official Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Jess Geffre/RELEASED)

(More photos are below.)

Continue reading “National Guard photos of the High Park fire”