Got smoke?

david52 Zone 6June 24, 2012

Reading and watching reports of all the forest fires around Colorado, NM, and Utah. We have the Weber Canyon fire 20 miles east of us, billowing up into thunderheads of smoke in the afternoon, and when the wind shifts at night, it drifts to the west, cough cough.

My sister lives up the Rist Canyon road west of Fort Collins, they were evacuated with a phone call from the Sheriff at 3:30 am, she said the flames were 100 feet high right over the ridge from their house, but the fire stopped about 300 yards away, and they're back home now, but the smoke is just awful.

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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

Wow, David - that sounds just awful! So glad your sister got to go back to her home and that she/it were spared!

I found a site that shows all large fire incidents across the U.S. -;bts=0amp;zu=http%3A//

Looks like there about 7 in Colorado alone. We just got back from a morning trip up to Carter lake, and it was a bit hazy and could smell some of the smoke from High Park fire.

Sure hope that 20% chance of rain on Wed & Thurs produces some!!! We could all use it for sure, but especially in these fire areas. This is scary stuff with all this dryness and heat ...

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 1:34PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Sorry you're having to deal with the smoke, David! Early on in the High Park fire I could smell it here a few days, especially in the morning, but it was never very bad. I can't even imagine what it must be like for your sister to leave her house not knowing if it would still be there the next day or not! Something like that is just totally inconceivable to me!

Right now Denver Channel 9 has pics (split screen with an infomercial!) of the Waldo Canyon fire west of COS on, and it's right behind and looks like it's coming down into a subdivision with some multi-million dollar homes! Wonder what'll happen there!

Your post made me take the time to look up fire maps for Colorado, and I discovered that the Little Sand fire near Pagosa could burn down into the Poma Ranch where I stay that I posted on our recent Colorado Tourism thread. Found info on the Pagosa Daily News site saying that crews are doing what they can to protect the buildings at the Poma Ranch and one other ranch in the Weminuche Valley--and that they had hooked pumps up to "a pond," probably the Martin Lake that I posted a pic of, on the Poma Ranch. Sure hope it's still there for my vacation next year, and may try to call Karen later to see how she's doing! Like I said, how freaky would it be to know that "everything" could suddenly be gone!''

Hope your sister stays ok, and hope you don't get anything closer to you than the one north of Mancos now!

Stay safe everybody out in the hills--and in Colorado and The Rockies, wherever you are,

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 1:44PM
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david52 Zone 6

The wind has shifted to the west, so that cleared out most of the smoke - for now. But the fire is already making a huge thunderhead of a cloud, who knows how many thousand feet high.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 2:55PM
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mayberrygardener(z5a, Broomfield, CO)

We're in Broomfield, and when I went out on Sunday morning, the air was pretty smoky, and we're about 60 miles away. I have heard of the evacs being lifted, but I have to think that I would probably go home and check on stuff, and then head back out. When the fire is that close, the smoke must just be crazy thick, and that's not my idea of fun. Thank goodness that your sister's home was spared--many up Rist Canyon were not. My friends live to the south of the main burn area--they were evacuated two weeks ago, but when the fire changed direction, their evac was lifted. Friend across the street was not so lucky--he evac'ed, but there's nothing for him to come home to now.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 8:55PM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

Was out for a walk near my home in Westminster before 5, and saw smoke in the hills. Looks like it must be from the Flagstaff Mountain fire that erupted today - 300 acres at present. Oh man, this is crazy ....

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 7:59PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Wow, Misty, that's quite a picture! I went out on my deck to see what I could see, but it's partly cloudy and there's no way right now to separate the clouds from the smoke. But a lot of it is definitely smoke, because I can smell it--quite strongly already! Just heard on the news that a bunch of homes within the City of Boulder have been advised to evacuate! Checked the weather up there, and the wind is out of the west! Not good!

I've been in touch with Karen from the Poma Ranch northwest of Pagosa, and she's been evacuated from the ranch for ten days now! She said the fire down there started around May 13, and that by the first weekend they were open they were already calling people to cancel reservations! I found a really good interactive map so I can watch where that one is going! Luckily from what I can find online it's a slower moving fire with few trees burning and no crowning--for now at least!

I don't think anybody will ever repeat Gov. Owens "all of Colorado is burning" comment, but, boy, it sure does seem to be getting close to that this year! And without moisture I think this is just the beginning!

My AC doesn't work so I have to sleep with the windows open, and methinks it's gonna be a Smoky Nite! Guess I should just be thankful it's not gonna be a Fiery Nite for me!!!


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 8:32PM
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mayberrygardener(z5a, Broomfield, CO)

Watching the news, and the footage of homes burning in Colo Springs. I am sick to my stomach--portions of the Air Force Academy are evacuated! Makes me think of what Chicago burning must have looked like. This is nuts!

Skybird, can you post the link to that map? I've got a couple, but they're not as useful as I'd like.

It does look like the SE corner of the state may be getting some rain... praying for some relief here!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 12:18AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Here's a link to the map, Mayberry. The easiest way to zoom in to where you want as far as I'm concerned is to double click on the area you want to go to repeatedly to zoom in "one step at a time," and then drag the map to where you want it if it gets off center. You can also scroll to zoom, but that seems kind of erratic to me! And there's a little "slider"in the upper right corner too, but double clicking seems to work well!

Also a drop down menu on top at "jump to wildfire" to get you to the right area quickly--if you know the name of the fire--and as of 0100 Wednesday the Flagstaff fire isn't on here yet!

When you get to the right fire you can zoom in really close to see exactly what you want to--I found the chapel at the AFA--and the B52 at the entrance. (And I can zoom in far enough at the Poma Ranch to be able to see the cabins and the lakes so I know for sure I'm looking at the right place!)

Places and roads are NOT marked on the map as it loads, but you can (kinda) see roads identified on the little map on the lower left corner, and you can also click on "base data" on the right side and switch between "imagery" and "street map" to see for sure where you are--or go to a topographic map!

It says somewhere that it is only as current as "the data that is reported to them," so it's probably a little bit "behind" since they need to get the reports and put them in! As of when I'm typing this the last time it was updated was at 1615 MDT Tuesday (on the bottom). Clearly, at this time, the Waldo fire is out of date because I can't see any houses in harms way on it's perimeter, but the houses started burning down after 4:15 so that makes sense, and I assume it'll be updated in the morning after new reports come in!

I didn't know there were fires in Alaska too! Have been too focused on Colorado! Boy, Utah has a bunch too! Definitely the beginning of a Long, Hot Summer1


Here is a link that might be useful: GeoMAC Wildland Fire Support Viewer

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 3:30AM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

I've been watching all the coverage for the High Park Fire, and the Waldo Canyon Fire, and now I've got one a little closer to home to watch. It's call the Pine Ridge Fire, and it's located near De Beque, which is 30 - 40 miles away, I think. Went from 100 to 700 acres in less than 6 hours.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pine Ridge Fire

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 12:14AM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

I'm praying we get July monsoon.

A lot of folks are learning the term "defensible space" this year. My heart goes out to those that have lost their homes.

The only upside I can see is that Mama Nature is dealing with the beetle kill in her own way.

It's going to be a long, hot summer.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 9:10AM
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david52 Zone 6

The thing thats so scary with these massive fires - in these conditions of single digit humidity, record high temperatures, and strong winds - is that 'defensible space' isn't what it used to be.

I would have had a hard time believing that those normal, suburban neighborhoods west of Colo Srings would go up like that - but they did.

Ten years ago, when the Missionary Ridge fire was going, the folks went and parked their cars in the nearly empty Lemon Reservoir to keep them safe. The fire started a tornado, trashing some of the cars. Video clip at the link -

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 10:14AM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

Incredible footage, David!

The High Park fire has jumped the Poudre a couple of times. I don't know how you protect yourself from a fire that can cross a river.

It is incredibly scary. We had a semi take out a compact truck at 65 mph and explode into flames in front of our house a few months back. The thing burned down and into the pavement. The embankment and ditch burned right to our fence line, where we somehow managed to put it out with the garden hose. It was so hot that it drove me back a few times and I was truly frightened.

People do need to know not to plant too close to structures, though it wouldn't have helped much with these massive fires.

And as awful as it is now, it will regenerate, though we may not live long enough to see it.

Rain Dance, anyone?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 8:46PM
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Looks like our rain dances are going to work, although now we will have to worry about flooding in the burn areas. It has been smoky on and off here on the northern Front Range for a couple of weeks, with kids rec activities cancelled due to the health hazard.

My family drove up thru Wyoming to Salt Lake City last weekend and we barely had a not-smoky mile. Watched a fire start on a hillside in SW SLC and burn up a whole neighborhood one day. Then the smoke followed us all the way home.

It's been heart-breaking to see so many homes and neighborhoods go up in flames.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 11:42AM
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Its not surprising that so many lost their homes this year. Most homes in the mountains have ZERO defensible space. From my wildlife and forestry course in 2008 we were taught to have at least 100 feet where there were no trees around your house. 200 might be better with all the wind this year. Bare dirt and mowed grass is a very good idea. It had been very smokey here several weeks ago with the big fire just north of here. There was still a little smoke here a few days ago, but not sure from where.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 6:18PM
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david52 Zone 6

So whats burning now on the front range of Colorado? I was there for the past week, and there was only one day I could see the mountains -the day after it rained.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 7:55PM
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