wildfire

BLM

Several utility companies in the West have announced they will institute power blackouts in areas with high fire risk when conditions are particularly bad. 

The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. started the 416 Fire with one of its coal-fired engines, the U.S. Forest Service announced Tuesday. U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Forest Service in the District of Colorado.

Andrea Chalfin / 91.5 KRCC

On June 8, The Crystal Park, Upper Skyway, and Crystal Hills neighborhoods will participate in a wildfire evacuation drill. The City of Colorado Springs, City of Manitou Springs and El Paso County will host the exercise through the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management.

June 1 will mark the one-year anniversary of the 416 Fire starting north of Durango in the San Juan National Forest. The fire burned 54,000 acres — an area larger than Mesa Verde National Park — and took two months to be contained.

But even with that one-year anniversary coming up, one question lingers: What started the 416 Fire? 

Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control

Colorado is testing out self-driving ATVs to assist wildland firefighters at work. The state is working with Honda to test out the company’s emerging technology.    

UPDATE: 6:30 p.m.: All evacuations have been lifted and mop up efforts are underway. Cause of the fire is under investigation.

A few months ago, John Parker retired and moved into a salmon-colored log house on a mountain called Tungsten in unincorporated Boulder County.

"Just to get a little piece of heaven, get away from the madding crowd," he says.

Inside, a wood-fired stove fills the house with heat and a low hum. Outside, the snow feels like thick, gritty icing. The wind barrels up a slope, gathering snow into a glittery stream. When the glitter stream meets the house, it curves around and hugs it, piling up around the back steps. It does not feel like the time to think about wildfires. But if that same wind was carrying embers instead of snow, those would follow the same path and instead of glittering, that pile by the back door would be glowing.

The historic government shutdown is beginning to stir anxiety in and around Paradise, Calif. The town of about 25,000 people was almost completely destroyed by a deadly wildfire last November and almost everyone and everything directly affected is relying heavily on federal aid.

So far FEMA and Small Business Administration loans do not appear to be affected. But local officials say the shutdown is causing delays in more under-the-radar infrastructure projects, which could have serious, longterm consequences.

Updated at 4:05 p.m. ET

The number of people who are unaccounted for in the wake of the Camp Fire in Northern California has grown to some 300 names, the Butte County Sheriff's Office says. As more people were reported missing, firefighters battle that and several other large blazes. And residents are still tallying devastating losses from the fires.

Updated at 5:15 a.m. ET on Friday

A fast-moving Northern California wildfire has forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate, with residents fleeing through flames and leaving their cars to take cover in nearby stores.

The Camp Fire started Thursday morning near Paradise, a town of around 27,000 people some 90 miles north of Sacramento. By Thursday evening, the town was a scene of widespread destruction, and hundreds of structures were reduced to rubble.

In early August three years ago, Barb Horn stood along the banks of the Animas River in the city of Durango, Colorado. Word had spread of a mine waste spill upstream near Silverton. She waited, alongside hundreds of others, for the waste to appear. But the plume took longer than expected and eventually arrived at night.

The next morning, she saw the change.

“It was absolutely surreal,” Horn says. “And I think that's why it went viral. It’s like somebody photoshopped the river orange.”

With wildfires burning through much of the West, there’s high demand for big aircraft to come in and battle the flames from above.

Over the last 30 years, the West has seen an uptick in the size and frequency of forest fires. Scientists have typically attributed the change to low snowpack and high summer temperatures. But researchers writing in the journal PNAS say the trend could have more to do with rain.

Researchers pulled up maps of forest wildfires from 1979 to 2016 and compared those maps against data on snow, rain, temperature and humidity.

As California's enormous wildfires continue to set records for the second year in a row, state lawmakers are scrambling to close gaps in state law that could help curb future fires, or make the difference between life and death once a blaze breaks out.

Since the Holy Fire ignited Monday in Orange County, Calif., the blaze ravaged more than 10,000 acres, destroyed at least 12 structures and forced more than 21,000 people to evacuate their homes by Thursday night. But amid all these grim and rising numbers, California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has listed just one cause: "human."

Record-breaking wildfires in California have prompted tweets from President Trump and U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. They blame the fires on “bad environmental laws,” too many dead or dying trees, and not enough logging.

Updated at 11:55 p.m. ET

As firefighters work to contain a deadly wildfire in Northern California, now the largest in the state's history, another fire is rapidly expanding, threatening new communities and prompting fresh evacuations.

Colorado Department of Transportation Facebook

The Spring Fire burning in southern Colorado is now 55% contained, up from 43% on Saturday. It's burned 106,985 acres. The Colorado Department of Transportation has reopened Highway 160 between La Veta and Fort Garland. Colorado Highway 12 remains closed from La Veta to Cuchara Pass. Colorado 69 will also stay closed from near Walsenburg to the Huerfano/Custer County Line. Local traffic will be allowed on 69; proof of residence is required.

Courtesy Spring Fire 2018 Facebook page

The Spring Fire continues to grow quickly, with reports showing a burn area of more than 94,125 acres. That's an increase of 10,000 acres since previously reported. Containment has remained steady at 5%. Most of the land is under private ownership, while state and federal lands are also affected.

@CSP_Alamosa/Twitter

The total acreage burned by the Spring Fire continues to grow. As of Tuesday morning, officials say 78,941 acres, more than 120 square miles has been effect. The containment level of the fire decreased to 5% Tuesday, down from 10% the day before. 104 homes are confirmed destroyed.

BLM, Esri, HERE, Garmin, USGS, NGA, EPA, USDA, NPS / Inciweb

Authorities have arrested a suspect on arson charges related to the Spring Fire burning in Costilla and Huerfano Counties in southern Colorado. Jesper Jorgenson, 52, was arrested without incident by Costilla County deputies in an investigation that also included the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, state arson investigators, Colorado State Patrol, and Immigration and Customs agents. The investigation is still ongoing, and no further information is available.

By Don McCullough / Wikimedia Commons

Fires are burning in Colorado, Utah and there’s fire danger in other parts of the Mountain West. Now three U.S. Congressmen from Colorado have introduced legislation that would make it a felony to fly a drone over a wildfire. Drones can make fighting fires more difficult and put lives at risk.

courtesy Colorado Department of Transportation

Update 5:39 p.m., Friday 6/29/18: In Huerfano County, mandatory evacuations are in place for residents in Tres Valles, Paradise Acres, Raspberry Mountain, Pine Haven, and the Cuchara Valley. At this time, La Veta is not part of the mandatory evacuation but remains on pre-evacuation notice. 

Any large animals being held at the 4H barn in La Veta can stay, but a secondary location is open at the Las Animas County Fairgrounds.

Looking To History To Combat Wildfires

Jun 14, 2018

As at least half a dozen fires in Colorado force hundreds to evacuate, and have closed a national forest, some residents say they're shocked at how quickly the fire has spread. The speed of wildfires is actually something Colorado ecologists have been studying, and they say history may provide clues on how to slow it down.

United States Drought Monitor

Hot, dry weather is forcing fire bans across southern Colorado. Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs are the latest to enact restrictions.

Each summer, thousands of firefighters devote long hours to putting out wildfires. At the end of each day, they retreat to camp a safe distance away where they can relax and recharge to be ready for their next shift. And also get fed. For the Mountain West News Bureau’s Faces Behind the Fire series, we talk to the man in charge of the kitchen.

 


Rowdy Muir started fighting fires on the front lines when he was 27.

Every summer, it takes a village to fight wildfires. For this upcoming season, we spoke with all kinds of people that lend a hand, from those on the frontlines, to others working a bit further back from the flames. For the Faces Behind the Fire series, Maggie Mullen talked to an archeologist with the U.S. Forest Service who helps decide what needs be preserved and what can be left to burn.


Wildfire season is ramping up across our region. There are all sorts of people involved in waiting, watching and fighting them -- people you might not expect. We’re profiling some of them in a series, Faces Behind The Fires.


Wildfire season is ramping up across our region. There are all sorts of people involved in waiting, watching and fighting them -- people you might not expect. We’re profiling some of them in a series, Faces Behind The Fires.

Lyle St. Goddard, 56, is running along a dirt trail on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.  

“It takes me about a lap to loosen up,” he said.

Being a hotshot is a young man’s game.

“I still can do it,” St. Goddard, one of the oldest crew members in the country, said. “I just got to keep in shape. I’ll be okay.”

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