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Inside the High Park Fire Burn Zone

Grace Hood

The media were allowed a first glimpse of what it looks like inside the High Park Fire burn zone on Wednesday. An escorted caravan along the lower part of the Poudre Canyon—Highway 14—showed charred black and gray hillsides. Perhaps most remarkable was the random path of the fire. As KUNC’s Grace Hood reports, some homes were leveled, while the rest of the block was left standing.

HOOD: Our tour starts just before the mouth of the Poudre Canyon on Middle Silo Road. Our guide, Patrick Love with Poudre Fire Authority, explains that there was only one home along here that perished the second day of the fire

Love says that as winds changed, fire headed down the slope directly behind one house—quickly burning it to the ground while structures within yards remained standing.

LOVE: Unfortunately the fire got ahead of us and outstripped our resources, and we lost this one residence directly behind us.

HOOD: Everything else on this road made it, but the rugged hillside that’s the backdrop to these homes is charred.

Further up Highway 14 toward Picnic Rock, you find another home that didn’t make it.

HOOD IN SCENE NARRATION: All you can see is the foundation, some really scorched trees here along the entrance to the driveway, but basically nothing’s left.

LOVE: We hate to lose any residences, especially if they’re primary residences. That’s important. It hurts us when something like that happens.

HOOD: At our third stop we get to see just how random the path of the fire is…

HOOD IN SCENE NARRATION:So now I’m standing in a parking lot along Highway 14. There’s a tin steel roof and some rubble underneath…It’s amazing to me it’s flattened and you see some black around it, then there’s still weeds growing inbetween the panes of cement.

LOVE: Absolutely. Not only did this building get destroyed, but take a look at the information kiosk, it’s all wood, with wood singles. That right there shows the fickleness of forest fires. That’s what we have as these challenges to try to keep ahead and on top of things like that.

HOOD: Fickleness and intensity, that thing is flattened…

LOVE; It is. Even if you look around there’s green. Within 15 feet of where you and I are standing now, beautiful green trees, however things are also black.


Our fourth---and last—stop is miles further up the canyon at the Gateway Natural Area. This lush green area is the polar opposite to what we can see just 100 yards away

HOOD IN SCENE NARRATION: You know it’s scorched along Highway 14, but when we come to this natural area, it’s business as usual. It looks exactly like it did before. Love says that he wants people to know that areas like this are still very much a concern…

LOVE: Green islands like this can reburn if an ember gets going again. And it can reburn just as fierce as the first time the fire came through.

HOOD: Those embers could be anywhere right now in the canyon, according to Love. And that means that the more than 1900 personnel working in this area aren’t going to be calling it quits any time soon. 

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