Mail carrier evacuates 92-year old woman from Galena Fire

Melinda Kontz, a mail carrier in Fort Collins, Colorado evacuated 92-year old Ingebord Steiner as the Galena Fire burned near Ms. Steiner’s house Friday. The two had known each other for a while and had developed a friendship. But Ms. Kontz’s actions that day went beyond what is normally expected of a U.S. Postal Service employee.

Here is an excerpt from an article at TheDenverChannel:

Back in her home on Galena Court Monday and sitting in a blue rocking chair, Steiner recalled looking out her window just before noon Friday. Where there is now just a blackened field, she saw fire creeping through the meadow.

“I was absolutely flabbergasted,” Steiner said. “I couldn’t understand how something…How can it go so fast?”

Before she knew it, however, Kontz arrived to help.

Kontz said she had also spotted the fire, and skipped past many of the mailboxes on her route to get to Steiner’s house. There, she took the woman’s lunch out of the microwave and grabbed her coat.

“In the commotion of that a sheriff came to give her the evacuation orders, so that lady was able to help me get [Steiner] into my mail van,” Kontz said.

“She put me in a mail truck and took me to the pastor’s house,” Steiner said.

Update on Galena Fire near Fort Collins, March 18, 2013

Map of Galena Fire, 8 pm March 17, 2013

Larimer County released this map of the Galena Fire which has burned 1,348 acres on the west side of Horsetooth Reservoir west of Fort Collins, Colorado. Below is their update from this morning:

The Galena Fire is now estimated at 1348 acres. There has been minimal growth in the fire and the higher estimate is based on better mapping.

Containment is at 75% but is expected to be higher by the end of the day. 130 firefighters are still on scene with two Type 2 helicopters flying today if conditions permit. No structures have been damaged. There have been two minor injuries. Both firefighters were treated and released at a local hospital.

Fire crews will be completing and securing fire lines today as well as doing some mop-up. Crews have constructed approximately five miles of lines which given the early season limited resources is extremely good. Incident Commander Tony Simons says crews are working hard and have a positive attitude.

Winds will still be a big factor today and will cause increased smoke in the interior of the fire.

The investigation into the cause of the fire is close to being complete. The fire has been determined to be human caused but was NOT a result of a campfire, a controlled burn or a prescribed burn that escaped. Details will be made available as soon as the investigation is complete.

Pre-evacuation notices remain in effect today due to concerns about the wind.

Below is video from a news conference conducted about three hours after the fire started on March 15.

More information about the Galena Fire.

Galena Fire causes evacuations near Fort Collins, Colorado

Galena Fire 3-15-2013
Galena Fire, Friday night, 3-15-2013. Photo by @ashleytrailrun

UPDATE at 1:39 p.m. MT, March 18, 2013: Updated information, including an accurate map, can be found HERE.


UPDATE at 3:30 p.m. MT, March 16, 2013:

Evacuations lifted — Larimer County officials distributed this information within the last hour:

All evacuations for the Galena fire will be lifted tonight at 8:00 p.m. Residents in the affected area will be allowed to return home at that time. No credentials will be needed. Those residents will remain on pre-evacuation status and should be prepared to leave if necessary.


UPDATE at 11:50 a.m. MT, March 16, 2013:

The Galena fire west of Fort Collins, Colorado, now managed by a Type 3 incident management team, was fairly quiet overnight and did not have any significant movement. Larimer County authorities are estimating the size at 750 to 1,000 acres but have not accurately mapped the perimeter. The fire is partially confined by last summer’s 87,000-acre High Park Fire on the west and north sides and Horsetooth Reservoir on the east, but there is still potential for fire movement on the south side.  (map of High Park fire)

Mandatory evacuation notifications were sent yesterday for the area west of Horsetooth Reservoir and those evacuations remain in effect today. As of last night all residents of the Soldier Canyon Estates area were allowed back into their homes.

The weather forecast for the area predicts a 30 percent chance of precipitation on Saturday. As this is written, radar is detecting scattered showers east, west, and south of the fire. The relative humidity should bottom out in the mid-thirties today and the winds should be 5-10 mph gusting to 20 late in the afternoon. Sunday is a different story, however, with a forecast for 10-26 mph winds gusting to 40 with a 24 percent relative humidity.

Resources assigned to the fire today include one Type 2 helicopter, four hand crews, and an assortment of engines.


Originally posted at 11 p.m. MT, March 15, 2013

The Galena Fire west of Fort Collins, Colorado forced some residents to evacuate as the fire burned near Horsetooth Reservoir and Charles A. Lory State Park on Friday. At 4:30 p.m. Larimer County officials estimated the fire had burned about 800 acres.

As of 8:40 p.m. the spread of the fire had slowed. Hand crews were actively working the north side of the fire and parts of the west flank. Engines were assigned to the south side near Inlet Bay.

Firefighters requested air tankers and helicopters but none were available except for one small helicopter, according to The Coloradoan, but strong winds on Friday may have made it difficult to operate any aircraft over the fire. The relative humidity in the area has been extremely low, with the maximum humidity early Friday morning only reaching up to 22 percent. Friday afternoon it got as low as 15 percent while the winds gusted in the mid-twenties.

Saturday’s weather will be more in favor of the firefighters, with a minimum relative humidity of 41 percent, moderate winds of three to seven mph, and a 30 percent chance of light rain.

Friday afternoon firefighters contained a second smaller fire near Eddy Lane in the community of LaPorte.

The map below shows the approximate location of the Galena fire west of Horsetooth Reservoir, and the smaller fire near LaPorte, north and west of Fort Collins. The red areas represent heat detected by a satellite.

Map of Galena Fire, 335 pm MT March 15, 2012