It’s That Time, Again

My state is on fire again. This is a week-and-a-half earlier than the Waldo Canyon Fire last year. Why is that a problem? Because it’s only mid-June. Grass should still be growing and green, but our grass and trees are dry enough to allow for raging fires. Yesterday, three fires started. The one just north of Colorado Springs is the Black Forest Fire. Due south in Pueblo there was a small grass fire, and south-west of the Springs, in Canon City, is the Royal Gorge Fire. Today, another tiny one sprang up to the west in Florissant. The one in Pueblo and the one in Florissant seem to be under control.

The Royal Gorge Fire topped out at 3,500 acres and as of the last update is down to about 3,000 and is considered to be 20% contained. In order to call it “contained,” they need to be sure that the fireline or other border that is established won’t be broken through. That means that 20% of the outer edge of the Royal Gorge Fire has been stopped. If it so chooses, the fire can still grow in size, since 80% of the outer edge is not yet trapped behind a border. I did find it a little amusing, though, that before any sort of containment was even announced, they were already talking about setting up a meeting to discuss how to rebound from this for the tourists.

Our fire, however, simply scoffs at our puny human efforts to contain it. Apparently it went from ignition to 8,000 acres in about 10 hours, yesterday. As of the 5:00 update today, it was 11,500.

I apologize for the lines in the blues and greys in the following pictures. Compressing my camera’s pictures to a reasonable size tends to mess with the gradients.

Black Forest Fire 008

While I was driving, I saw one of the helicopters on its way back to the Air Force Academy for a refill. They opened their runway to help with all of the air support. See that green tree in the corner? The haze between me and the mountains is the smoke.

Black Forest Fire 009

I also saw a roadblock. Not that I wanted to get that close to the fire, anyway.

Black Forest Fire 026

I ended up in a field near Pine Creek High School. It had a great view, and it was at the southern edge of the voluntary evacuation area, which was the evacuation area the furthest away from the fire. I wasn’t the only one that wanted to see what was happening but didn’t want to get in the way of the people working their butts off to protect our city.

Black Forest Fire 010

Unlike Waldo Canyon, which was a fairly steady wall of fire, this one has a ragged edge that moves forward with spot fires.

Black Forest Fire 023

I’m kind of hoping it’s a back-fire, though. Otherwise, that house is screwed. The official count, as of noon today, was over 100 structures lost, with 92 of them being homes. It isn’t a complete count, though, as I talked to a man whose house is in the affected area but it was not on the list of lost structures or the list of ones that were unharmed. It will be a while before we can get a really accurate count.

Black Forest Fire 011

This one flew right overhead, since it was coming from the other end of the fire to be refilled at the Academy. We have fire-fighting aircraft and military aircraft in on the action. There are perks to being in a military town.

Black Forest Fire 021

I think this one is even from the Academy fleet.

Black Forest Fire 012

If this dark plume is one house . . .

Black Forest Fire 017

. . . then what the hell is burning here?

Black Forest Fire 013

It has been quite windy today, but because the fire is more in the plains than the mountains, it is safe enough to keep the air support flying. They were mustered a whole lot faster than last year, and thank goodness, too. The area isn’t as densely populated as the Springs, but it’s not empty, either.

Black Forest Fire 022

Bright blue skies and fires. Both products of being in such a dry area.

However, on a positive note, Care and Share received over 100,000# of donations of food and drink, today. I saw them put out a note that they needed Gatorade. It was only two or three hours later that they put out another note saying that they were now swamped in Gatorade. I live in a pretty awesome community.

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