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.
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Weston Pass & Chateau Fires burn thousands of acres west of Colorado Springs

Above:  Map showing the locations of the Chateau and Weston Pass Fires, with data from about 11 p.m. MDT June 30, 2018.

(Originally published at 7:20 am MDT July 1, 2018)

The Chateau Fire is burning 24  miles west of Colorado Springs 7 miles northwest of Cripple Creek. Since it was reported June 29 it has been managed by Lohmire’s Type 4 Incident Management Team and has blackened 1,425 acres according to Sunday’s National Situation Report.

Another fire in that part of Colorado, the Weston Pass Fire, was reported June 28 and had burned an estimated 4,138 acres by 11 p.m. Saturday, which was the best guess after a mapping flight that was partially obscured by clouds. It is 64 miles WNW of Colorado Springs and 16 miles southeast of Leadville. Musser’s Type 3 Incident Management Team has been handling this fire.

Weston Pass Fire
A helicopter works the Weston Pass Fire. Undated & uncredited photo uploaded to Inciweb June 30, 2018.

Todd Pechota’s Type 1 Team mobilized Saturday and will eventually be assuming command of both incidents.

Both fires are highly visible and have structures nearby, which may explain dispatching a Type 1, rather than a Type 2 Team. But we have also noticed a recent trend in Colorado to attack fires more aggressively than in the recent past. Crews and aircraft have been responding earlier and in greater numbers than in previous years. This is a welcome development.

Multiple wildfires burning in Colorado

Above: Colorado Fires. Heat detected at 1:01 p.m. MDT June 30, 2018.

(UPDATED at 6:11 p.m. MDT June 30, 2018)

Colorado has been the location where much of the firefighting action has taken place during the last couple of weeks and that continues as at least five large blazes burn across the state.

The map above shows the locations of the largest and most active fires. The heat data on the map is from 1:01 p.m.  MDT June 30.

Here is the list:

  • 416 Fire, 9 miles north of Durango. 47,000 acres. It started June 1.
  • Spring Creek Fire, between La Veta and Fort Garland along Highway 160. 38,000 acres. CDOT reports that the closure of US 160 between Fort Garland and La Veta and the closure of CO 12 between Cuchara and La Veta, will continue. The fire is now pretty well established on the north sides of Highway 160 and Mt. Maestas. (More information.)
  • Chateau Fire, 7 miles northwest of Cripple Creek. Our VERY UNOFFICIAL estimate puts it at 1,300 acres early Saturday afternoon. (More information)
  • Weston Pass Fire, 16 miles southeast of Leadville. Our VERY UNOFFICIAL estimate puts it at 3,400 acres early Saturday afternoon. US 285, in Park County, is closed between Fairplay and Antero Junction (mp 188 to mp 163) in both directions. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered and will assume command  7/1. This team will manage both the Weston Pass Fire and the High Chateau Fire. (More information)
  • Sugarloaf Fire, 13 miles northeast of Silverthorne. The Forest Service estimates it has burned about 1,300 acres. This fire is not being fully suppressed.