Author Topic: Huge wildfires hit Colorado and New Mexico  (Read 1429 times)

Nigel Beardsley

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Huge wildfires hit Colorado and New Mexico
« on: June 12, 2012, 11:41:18 PM »
Hundreds of firefighters have joined efforts to tackle two of the biggest ever wildfires in the US states of Colorado and New Mexico.

The Colorado blaze shrouded the state capital, Denver, some 60 miles (100km) away in smoke on Tuesday.

A woman has died in the blaze, which has burned about 43,000 acres (68 sq miles) and is still growing.

A huge fire is also burning in New Mexico - one of a total of 19 fires in nine drought-stricken western states.

The Larimer County Sheriff's Office said on Monday that one person had died in Colorado, after investigators found remains in a home that had been burned in the fire.

Although the remains have not been conclusively identified, the family of Linda Steadman, 62, has issued a statement saying she died in a cabin that she loved.

They reported her missing after the fire started on Saturday, sheriff's officials said.

'Dire'
President Barack Obama called the Colorado governor to offer federal personnel, equipment and emergency grants - but was unable to reach his New Mexico counterpart due to poor reception in the fire zone, the Associated Press reported.

The High Park Fire - as it has been dubbed - is still growing, with only 5% contained, reported a national incident information website.

The same website says 30% of the 36,000-acre (56-sq-mile) Little Bear Fire in New Mexico has been contained.

About 118 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the blaze in Colorado - believed to have been started by lightning - and hundreds of people were forced to evacuate, officials say.

Some 600 firefighters are on the scene and up to 200 more are expected.

Additional resources have had to be called in as state and federal authorities rushed to tackle the blaze.


The US Forest Service said on Monday it would contract one air tanker from Alaska and four from Canada to add to the aircraft already combating the fire. Two more air tankers were also being mobilised in California.

Five of the forest service's 13 tankers have already been deployed to the scene, a spokesman said.

Congressmen from Colorado said in a letter to the forest service that the need for more aircraft was "dire".

But incident commander Bill Hahnenberg told the Associated Press: "We are a very high priority nationally. We can get all the resources we want and need."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-18414068

Yowbarb

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Re: Huge wildfires hit Colorado and New Mexico
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2012, 07:50:22 PM »
As of Sunday, "the fire spanned 57,882 acres." - Denver post. 
Not good. - Yowbarb

http://www.denverpost.com/  Denver Post

Colorado wildfires: Eight more homes lost in High Park Fire
06/18 4:51 PM The High Park Fire west of Fort Collins burned eight more homes Sunday night, bringing the number of destroyed properties to 189, Larimer County officials said this afternoon.

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_20831968  Perimeter Map of High Park Fire   57,882 acres.

Yowbarb

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Re: Huge wildfires hit Colorado and New Mexico
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2012, 12:52:17 AM »
NWS  http://weather.gov/

Dangerous Fire Weather Conditions Will Continue This Weekend...
Published: Fri, 22 Jun 2012 20:20:30 EDT
Conditions across the Interior Western U.S. will remain gusty and dry through this weekend. Should a fire catch in that area, where much of the terrain is very dry, flames could spread quickly. Red Flag Warnings cover much of the area. Details...
.............................
Update on the wildfire in Colorado,
- Yowbarb
.................................................................................................The Denver Post 

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20916390/colorado-wildfire-high-park-fire-expects-full-containment

Colorado wildfire: Fire races north of Poudre Canyon, homes burn
POSTED:   06/22/2012 09:30:15 AM MDT
UPDATED:   06/23/2012 12:41:02 AM MDT By Erin Udell and Joey Bunch

The Denver Post

Read more: Colorado wildfire: Fire races north of Poudre Canyon, homes burn - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20916390/colorado-wildfire-high-park-fire-expects-full-containment#ixzz1ybI4IypP
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse

Yowbarb

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Re: Huge wildfires hit Colorado and New Mexico
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2012, 08:11:53 AM »
Yowbarb Note: There is a newer update following post.
..............................
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ig4ur512foRHFUyUBddX7M6pOlpQ?docId=1e5f3e96275d43cb956ec198e62365b1

1 dead, estimated 346 homes burned in Colo. fire
By P. SOLOMON BANDA, Associated Press – 10 hours ago 
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP)

A raging Colorado wildfire that forced tens of thousands to flee has left at least one person dead and has destroyed an estimated 346 homes this week, making it the most destructive fire in the state's history, officials said Thursday.
Police Chief Pete Carey said the remains of one person were found in a home where two people had been reported missing. He didn't elaborate or take questions after making the announcement late Thursday.
From above, the fire's destruction is painfully clear: Rows and rows of houses were reduced to smoldering ashes even as some homes just feet away survived largely intact.
At a meeting Thursday night, Rebekah and Byron Largent learned from lists distributed by authorities that their home was among those that burned Tuesday, their daughter Emma's first birthday.
"Our minds just started sifting through all the memories of that house that we lost that can't be replaced," Rebekah Largent said. She remembered her wedding dress, a grandmother's china, the rocking chair where the couple would sit with Emma.
"Our little girl, our 1-year-old daughter, that's the house that she's lived in the longest. It's just really hard to have lost a lot of the memories connected to that, you know? They just burned," she said.
On one street, all but three houses had burned to their foundations, said Ryan Schneider, whose home was still standing in a neighborhood where 51 others were destroyed.
"I was real happy at first. My wife was happy," he said. "The emotion of seeing the other homes, though, was instant sadness."
The aerial photos showing the scope of one of the worst fires to hit the American West in decades did little to help ease the concerns of many residents who still did not know the fate of homes.
Amid the devastation in the foothills of Colorado Springs, there were hopeful signs. Flames advancing on the U.S. Air Force Academy were stopped and cooler conditions could help slow the fire.
The fire was 15 percent contained Thursday night. The cost of fighting the blaze had already reached $3.2 million.
Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said the estimate of 346 homes could change. A fire in northern Colorado, which was still burning, destroyed 257 homes and until Thursday was the most destructive in state history.
For now, Bach said, the news of the destruction would make it very difficult for affected residents in the city about 60 miles south of Denver.
"This community is going to surround them with love and encouragement," Bach said.
More than 30,000 people frantically packed up belongings Tuesday night as the flames swept through their neighborhoods.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said two people have been arrested in connection with a burglary at an evacuated home. Belinda Yates and Shane Garrett were being held on charges including second-degree burglary and possession of methamphetamine.
Community officials were planning to begin the process of notifying residents Thursday that their homes were destroyed. For many residents, the official notification was a formality.
Residents recognized their streets on aerial pictures and carefully scrutinized the images to determine the damage. Photos and video from The Associated Press and The Denver Post showed widespread damage.
Colorado Springs, the state's second-largest city, is home to the U.S. Olympic Training Center, NORAD and the Air Force Space Command, which operates military satellites. They were not threatened.
Conditions were still too dicey to allow authorities to begin trying to figure out what sparked the blaze that has raged for much of the week and already burned more than 26 square miles.
President Barack Obama declared a major disaster late Thursday, making federal funding available in Colorado Springs' El Paso County as well as Larimer County, where a fire that erupted two weeks ago killed a woman and destroyed 257 homes.
Obama was to tour fire-stricken areas Friday as hundreds of locals and some tourists who were staying at Red Cross shelters hoped life would return to normal. Others stayed with friends and family.
Bill and Lois Bartlett said they believe their neighborhood was spared but remained wary as they waited at a YMCA shelter set up by the Red Cross.
"I've been through a lot of stuff like this before but not in civilian life," said Bill Bartlett, who flew B-17 bombers during World War II.
His wife Lois said the Red Cross bought them two special cots to make them more comfortable but still found staying at the shelter difficult. "You don't have any privacy. You can't look at TV and get the news," she said.
The weather forecast offered some optimism for firefighters to make progress, with the temperature expected to reach into the mid-80s — about 5 degrees cooler than Wednesday — and humidity at 15 to 20 percent, about 5 points higher. Winds were forecast to be 10 to 15 mph.
The fire blackened up to 50 acres along the southwest boundary of the Air Force Academy campus, said Anne Rys-Sikora, a spokeswoman for the firefighters. No injuries or damage to structures — including the iconic Cadet Chapel — were reported.
Fort Carson, an Army infantry post about 15 miles from the academy, sent 120 soldiers along with bulldozers and other heavy equipment to help clear a line to stop the fire on the academy. Rys-Sikora said the academy was not getting a disproportionate share of equipment and firefighters.
The Flying W Ranch, a popular tourist attraction near Colorado Springs, was severely damaged in the blaze. But authorities let people into the area to check on cattle. John Hendrix, who volunteers at the Flying W, said 47 animals were accounted for.
"Some of them are pretty scorched up, but they are still there. We didn't lose one," Hendrix said.
Among the fires elsewhere in the West:
— A 72-square-mile wildfire in central Utah has destroyed at least 56 structures and continues to burn with just 20 percent containment, authorities said. Officials expected the damage estimate to rise as they continue their assessment.
— A smaller fire near St. George, Utah, started Wednesday and had grown to 2,000 acres by midnight, forcing some residents to evacuate. The fire was burning about three miles north of Zion National Park. At least eight structures were destroyed.
— Fire crews in southeastern Montana used a break in the weather to dig containment lines around two wildfires that have burned 200 square miles and dozens of homes. The improved conditions led to residents clamoring to be let back in to check their properties and assess the damage, but authorities kept evacuation orders in place for hundreds of people.
— A wildfire in the Bridger-Teton National Forest has grown from about 12,000 acres to 23,000 acres, or nearly 36 square miles, officials said.
— In northern Colorado, about 1,900 people were allowed back into their homes Thursday, more than two weeks after the High Park Fire erupted. The blaze was 85 percent contained. The 257 homes it destroyed was a state record until that figure was eclipsed by the Colorado Springs fire.
Meanwhile, an erratic wildfire gaining steam in western Colorado prompted officials to evacuate homes of about 50 residents south of De Beque as the 10,000-acre blaze threatened to cross Interstate 70 Thursday night, the Bureau of Land Management said.
Associated Press writers Dan Elliott and Rema Rahman in Denver, Chris Carlson in Colorado Springs, Mead Gruver in Cheyenne, Wyo., Whitney Phillips in Salt Lake City, Matthew Brown in Roundup, Mont., and Matt Volz in Helena, Mont., contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

...
...

0800 AM EDT CNN Update on the big wildfire near Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Waldo Canyon fire.)
Colorado Wildfire grows larger, deadlier
The Air Force Academy Campus near Colorado Springs is staging area to fight
the fires. Helicopters take off from there/supplies are there/big canvas tents for men...
•   346 homes lost, 20,000 more in danger
•   36,000 people evacuated from the area
•   Colorado Springs the second most populous city in CO.
•   One charred body found in a suburban home last night.
•   Door to door searches going on for     bodies
CNN Meteorologist Bob Marciano gives some background to why this is happening in Colorado:
•   Incredible amount of snow last year
•   Vegetation really sprung up and flourished
•   Low snow pack THIS year.
•   Then, this growth dried up drastically in an early, hot spring.
Even so, the CNN news person was mentioning arson is being looked into.
- Yowbarb
...

Yowbarb

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Re: Huge wildfires hit Colorado and New Mexico
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2012, 08:22:17 AM »
Update from a few minutes ago,
Yowbarb
...
Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/wildfires/ci_20971894/colorado-wildfire-waldo-canyon-fire-crews-making-progress

Colorado wildfire: Waldo Canyon Fire crews making progress
POSTED:   06/29/2012 08:14:35 AM MDT
UPDATED:   06/29/2012 08:46:08 AM MDTThe Denver Post

COLORADO SPRINGS — Incident commander Rich Harvey told a Friday morning new briefing that crew fighting the Waldo Canyon Fire made "really good progress overnight."

No additional structures were lost or damaged.

Harvey said the focus Friday is on holding the fire lines and "putting muscle on the ground in front of this fire."

City officials announced they will open a disaster recovery center Saturday at 105 N. Spruce to help people who have lost their homes and those still evacuated.

The Waldo Canyon Fire started June 23 and has burned 16,750 acres. It has burned 346 homes and killed one person. It is 15 percent contained.

It is threatening 20,085 residences and 160 commercials.
The blaze's cause is not known, and the FBI has joined the investigation.

On Friday morning Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey said human remains have been found in an affected area. No details about that person were released other than the remains were found at 2910 Rossmere St. Carey said there are fewer than 10 people who haven't been accounted for.

U.S. Forest Service supervisor Jeri Marr said Friday, "We are working really hard to move forward to put this fire out."

Residents of Cascade, Chipita Park, Green Mountain Falls, Crystola and parts of Woodland Park and northwest Colorado Springs are still under mandatory evacuations. The neighborhoods of Cedar Heights, Pinon Valley, Mountain Shadow, Perregrine, Rockrimmon and housing areas of the Air Force Academy are also evacuated.

At one point 32,000 people were evacuated; some neighborhoods were allowed to go home Thursday evening.

Bret Waters, the city's emergency manager, said be anticipates more mandatory evacuations will be lifted Friday.

The Red Cross has set up evacuation centers at Lewis Palmer High School, 1300 Higby, Monument; Cheyenne Mountain High School, 1200 Cresta Road, Colorado Springs; Southeast YMCA , 2190 Jet Wing Drive, Colorado Springs; and Summit Elementary School, 490 Meadow Park Dr., Divide.

U.S. 24 is closed between Cave of the Winds and the El Paso/Teller county line.
[ Yowbarb Note: Interactive Map is available on the website, I cannot post it here:
http://www.denverpost.com/wildfires/ci_20971894/colorado-wildfire-waldo-canyon-fire-crews-making-progress  ]

Homes destroyed in Waldo Canyon fire
Click on the orange areas and flame markers to see how many homes were destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire in areas of Colorado Springs. Camera icons provide links to before and after images of the area. This map is subject to change until confirmation by fire and government officials

Read more: Colorado wildfire: Waldo Canyon Fire crews making progress - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/wildfires/ci_20971894/colorado-wildfire-waldo-canyon-fire-crews-making-progress#ixzz1zCBvykmk

Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse


Image:
Of all the streets in Mountain Shadows, none suffered the kinds of losses Majestic did. (Photos by Bing, left and RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)
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Yowbarb

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Re: Huge wildfires hit Colorado and New Mexico
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2012, 03:41:21 AM »
Here are excerpts from late last night's Update.
Please refer to the Denver Post for the latest updates on where it is safe to return home, and all the details. - Yowbarb
...
http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20971894 COLORADO SPRINGS —

"Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey told an afternoon news conference that a second body was found Friday in the rubble of a home at 2910 Rossmere St. destroyed by the Waldo Canyon Fire in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs.
One body was found at the address last night, and Carey said today the remains of another person were also found there Friday morning."

"The city also announced that a complete preliminary property assessment had been posted at www.springsgov.com.
U.S. 24 remains closed."

Read more: Officials release list of properties impacted by Waldo Canyon Fire - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20971894#ixzz1zGv3szKd
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse

Read more: Officials release list of properties impacted by Waldo Canyon Fire - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20971894#ixzz1zGuhBOLF
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse
The widespread fire in the mountains and foothills west and north of Colorado Springs is threatening 20,085 residences and 160 businesses.

The cause of the blaze has not been released, but an FBI team has joined the investigation.

Jeff Kramer of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said the U.S. Forest Service has a "cause and origin specialist" on site now who is waiting to get to the area where the fire started.

The cost of fighting the fire is about $5.2 million, according to the fire command. President


Of all the streets in Mountain Shadows, none suffered the kinds of losses Majestic did. (Photos by Bing, left and RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)
"Obama declared Colorado a federal disaster area overnight Friday, which unleashes federal resources and dollars."
Residents of Cascade, Chipita Park, Green Mountain Falls, Crystola and parts of Woodland Park and northwest Colorado Springs are still under mandatory evacuations. The neighborhoods of Cedar Heights, Pinon Valley, Mountain Shadow, Perregrine, Rockrimmon and housing areas of the Air Force Academy are also evacuated.

At one point 32,000 people were evacuated; some neighborhoods were allowed to go home Thursday evening.

Friday morning Carey said that there are fewer than 10 people who haven't been accounted for from the evacuation area.

On Friday morning Douglas County lifted all of its pre-evacuation notices... [CONTINUES ]
READ MORE:
http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20971894

................

Yowbarb

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Re: Huge wildfires hit Colorado and New Mexico
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2012, 05:53:48 AM »
On TWC about 08:15 AM EDT Mike Bettes gave the bad news that all C130 Cargo planes
have been grounded today following the death in South Dakota of a pilot using the plane to fight a fire...
The story is the planes are supposedly not designed for this type of duty and not safe ...Bettes was not saying this...
Really bad timing for this to be happening...C130s are being used in the Colorado fires...
- Yowbarb

Yowbarb

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Re: Huge wildfires hit Colorado and New Mexico
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2012, 05:58:26 AM »
http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20120703/NEWS01/207030305/Firefighting-fleet-C-130s-grounded-Colorado?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFrontpage

Great Falls Tribune

Firefighting fleet of C-130s grounded in Colorado


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The deadly crash of a military cargo plane fighting a South Dakota wildfire forced officials to ground seven other Air Force air tankers, removing critical firefighting aircraft from the skies during one of the busiest and most destructive wildfire seasons ever to hit the West.

The C-130 from an Air National Guard wing based in Charlotte, N.C., was carrying a crew of six and fighting a 6.5-square-mile blaze in the Black Hills of South Dakota when it crashed Sunday, killing at least one crew member and injuring others.

President Barack Obama offered thoughts and prayers to the crew and their families. "The men and women battling these terrible fires across the West put their lives on the line every day for their fellow Americans," he said in a statement.

The crash cut the number of large air tankers fighting this summer's outbreak of wildfires by one-third.

The military put the remaining seven C-130s on an "operational hold," keeping them on the ground indefinitely. That left 14 federally contracted heavy tankers in use until investigators gain a better understanding of what caused the crash.

"You've basically lopped off eight air tankers immediately from your inventory, and that's going to make it tougher to fight wildfires," said Mike Archer, who distributes a daily newsletter of wildfire news.

"And who knows how long the planes will be down?" he said, adding that investigators will take time to make their conclusions.

C-130 air tankers have crashed on firefighting duty before. In 2002, a privately owned civilian version of an older-model C-130 crashed in California, killing three crew members. The plane broke up in flight and an investigation blamed fatigue cracks in the wings.

The crash, in part, prompted a review of the airworthiness of large U.S. air tankers and led ultimately to a greatly reduced fleet of large civilian tanker planes. The 44 planes in the fleet a decade ago has dwindled to nine being flown on U.S. Forest Service exclusive use contracts right now.

(Page 2 of 3)

A military spokesman said he did not know when the grounded planes would resume firefighting flights. The military planes had been filling up with fire retardant and flying out of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

They were used to fight fires in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota.

The U.S. Forest Service, which owns the MAFFS devices and coordinates the program with the military, expressed support for the decision to stand down the MAFFS.

However, as a result, the Forest Service now will have to prioritize fires and the resources allocated to fight them, said Jennifer Jones, a Forest Service spokeswoman at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

Fires threatening human life will be a top priority, followed by those threatening communities and community infrastructure, other types of property, and finally natural and cultural resources, she said.

"The bottom line is, we will continue to do our best to fulfill our responsibility to protect the public, communities and cultural and natural resources during wildfires with the assets that we have available," she said.

Firefighters in the field also will adjust their strategy and tactics based on the availability of air tankers.

The plane that crashed was fighting a fire about 80 miles southwest of Rapid City, S.D. The terrain of the crash site is "very, very rugged, straight up and straight down cliffs," said Frank Maynard, the Fall River County emergency management director.

Military officials declined to say whether anyone was killed, but they confirmed there were some crew members who were being treated for serious injuries at a hospital in Rapid City.

The family of Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal of Mooresville, N.C., said they were told early Monday that he had died in the crash. They said he was a 42-year-old married father of two and a veteran of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"There were lives lost," Lt. Col. Robert Carver of the North Carolina National Guard said at a news conference. "We are very grateful for the survivors and our thoughts and prayers and hearts go out to the families that have lost loved ones."

(Page 3 of 3)

The C-130s can be loaded with a device called the Modular Airborne Firefighting System, or MAFFS. The system can drop 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant within seconds through a modified side door toward the rear of the plane.

Obama signed a bill last month hastening the addition of seven large tanker planes to the nation's rundown aerial firefighting fleet, at a cost of $24 million, but the first planes won't be available until mid-August.

Among the major fires burning in the West Monday:

» Colorado: The 27-square-mile Waldo Canyon Fire was 55 percent contained. The fire northwest of Colorado Springs killed two people and destroyed nearly 350 homes.

» Utah: Two new wildfires broke out on National Forest lands, one caused by target shooting, authorities said. In southern Utah, evacuations were ordered as the 500-acre Shingle fire threatened about 100 cabins.

» Montana: The 290-square mile Ash Creek fire jumped a state highway early Monday, triggering evacuations.

Elliott reported from Denver. Associated Press writers Paul Foy in Salt Lake City; Keith Ridler in Boise, Idaho; Michael Biesecker in Raleigh, N.C.; and Blake Nicholson in Bismarck, N.D., contributed to this report.