Tue June 26, 2012

Wildfires: High Park Fire 55% Contained, Waldo Canyon Fire 5%

As Tropical Storm Debby slowly douses the southeast of the country, Colorado continues to be the polar opposite in terms of weather. Several days of hot temperatures & dry conditions have helped fuel several fires across the state.

No respite from the weather is expected anytime soon, today's temperatures are expected to crawl into the 100's across the state. The amount of red on the NWS's graphical forecast map for Colorado is quite staggering. Uncooperative weather forecasts are just part of the reason the Rocky Mountain region is now at preparedness level 5.

Here's a quick round-up of some of the fires burning across Colorado:


On day 18 of the fire, the size of the High Park now stands at 83,262 update 9:25am: is now 87,250 acres and 55% contained. The newest daily progression map [.pdf] shows growth in the southwest corner and some spot fires on the north side of Highway 14 near Hewlett Gulch and other areas around Glacier View. The addition of a RAMS aircraft has also allowed for better pinpointing of hot spots and scattered heat zones in the latest Heat IR perimeter map [.pdf].

Editor's Note: Due to cloud cover there was no fly-over and consequently no new maps made. The previously linked maps were from the 24th. We regret the error.

An estimated $31.5 million dollars is the cost to date of the High Park Fire. With half of the nation's fire fighting air fleet in Colorado and the addition of MAFFS C-130's that cost will continue to climb. Officials have stated that generally 30% to 40% of the overall cost of fighting a fire is tied up in air support.


This fire has been labeled the #1 priority in the state due to the proximity of the fire to many homes. Our friends in the south KRCC are reporting that the fire is now 5% contained and 4500 acres. With no reported structure losses, 600 personnel are currently fighting this fire.

MAFFS flying out of nearby Peterson AFB are being used to protect Palmer Reservoir and Eagle Lake Camp. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has assumed control of fire efforts and additional resources are coming in to help fight the fire, which is expected to remain very active today.

Last Chance Fire

The latest fire in Colorado is burning east of Fort Morgan. 9News is reporting this morning that the 38,400 acre prairie fire is 95% contained. Officials have stated that the cause of the fire was sparks from a tire rim after a tire blowout.

Update 11:43am: The Denver Post is reporting that the Last Chance Fire is now 100% contained. 45,000 acres were burned and 11 structures lost.


In the southwest corner of Colorado, near Mancos the Weber fire is now 10% contained and 8,930 acres. The Cortex Journal is reporting that a Type 2 Incident Management Team is assuming control of operations. The Weber Fire is burning on land managed by the BLM and growth potential remains extreme with crowning fire and spotting among the fire's behavior.


The Little Sand Fire was the second largest fire in the state behind the High Park at 22,010 acres before the start of the Last Chance Fire. Burning 13 miles northwest of Pogosa Springs, this fire is currently 29% contained. Much like the High Park this fire was caused by lightning.

With news locally and nationwide focused on the multiple fires in the state, there are concerns that the wildfires will affect tourism. The Pagosa Sun echoes those concerns, noting that "Although the Little Sand Fire continues to burn, much of the Piedra area is still open for recreation"


Burning just 5 miles northeast of Leadville in Birdseye Gulch, this fire is 320 acres and 10% contained. No structures are currently threatened.