Earth Watch Report – Forest/Wild Fires
A firefighter fights a blaze near Black Forest, Colorado, on Wednesday, June 12. The Black Forest Fire is one of two major wildfires near Colorado Springs. The other, the Royal Gorge Fire, is threatening the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge.
Smoke covers the area on June 12.
A house burns near Colorado Springs on June 11.
|15.06.2013||Forest / Wild Fire||USA||State of Colorado, [Black Forest]|
|Updated:||Friday, 14 June, 2013 at 05:29 UTC|
|The remains of two people killed trying to flee the most destructive Colorado wildfire on record have been found as crews fight to keep the fierce, wind-driven blaze from roaring into the outskirts of Colorado Springs. The blaze has ripped across more than 24-square-miles (6215 hectares) of rolling, forested terrain northeast of Colorado Springs since it erupted on Tuesday, forcing some 38,000 people to flee their homes. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said the dead, who have not been publicly identified, were recovered on Thursday (Friday NZT) from the garage of one of at least 360 homes destroyed by the so-called Black Forest Fire near the state’s second-largest city. Maketa indicated the blaze could be the work of an arsonist or the result of negligence, telling reporters that a criminal investigation was under way.
He told Reuters there were no signs of lightning strikes in the area when the fire began. News of the first two casualties from the monster blaze came as fire-fighters made their first measurable progress against the fire, managing to carve containment lines around 5% of the fire’s perimeter. Maketa said the victims had been on the phone as the flames closed in on their home. “The person they were speaking with said he could hear popping and cracking in the background and they (the two people) advised they were leaving right now,” Maketa said. “We were truly hoping that we could get from day-to-day without coming across news like this.” With the fire still burning largely unchecked and driven by erratic 30-mile-per-hour (48-kilometre-per-hour) winds that showed no sign of diminishing, officials ordered mandatory evacuations of about 1000 homes in the northern tip of Colorado Springs that were considered to be in imminent danger. “Load your family, and pets and GO NOW,” the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet. The area lies just to the east of the US Air Force Academy. A voluntary evacuation alert was issued for another 2000 homes in Colorado Springs, advising those residents to be ready to flee at a moment’s notice, as embers drifted over the city.
|Updated:||Saturday, 15 June, 2013 at 10:36 UTC|
|A voracious wildfire driven in all directions by shifting winds destroyed at least 360 homes – a number that was likely to climb as the most destructive blaze in Colorado history burned out of control for a third day through miles of tinder-dry woods. The destruction northeast of Colorado Springs on Thursday surpassed last June’s Waldo Canyon fire, which burned 347 homes, killed two people and caused $353 million in insurance claims just 15 miles to the southwest. The heavy losses were blamed in part on explosive population growth in areas with historically high fire risk. “I never in my wildest dreams imagined we’d be dealing a year later with a very similar circumstance,” said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who drew audible gasps as he announced the number of homes lost to the blaze in Black Forest. Hours later, residents of 1,000 homes in Colorado Springs were ordered to evacuate. Thursday’s evacuation was the first within the city limits. About 38,000 other people living across roughly 70 square miles were already under orders to get out. Colorado’s second-largest city, with a population of 430,000, also asked residents of 2,000 more homes to be ready to evacuate. The streets became gridlocked with hundreds of cars while emergency vehicles raced by on shoulders. Hot, gusty winds fanned the 23-square-mile wildfire, sending it into new areas and back into places that had previously been spared. Even investigators sent in to determine the cause of the fire were pulled out for safety reasons. No injuries or deaths have been reported. The Red Cross said more than 800 people stayed at shelters. Black Forest, where the blaze began, offers a case study in the challenges of tamping down wildfires in Colorado and across the West, especially with growing populations, rising temperatures and a historic drought. Developers describe Black Forest as the largest contiguous stretch of ponderosa pine in the United States – a thick, wide carpet of vegetation rolling down from the Rampart Range that thins out to the high grasslands of Colorado’s eastern plains. Once home to rural towns and summer cabins, it is now dotted with million-dollar homes and gated communities – the result of the state’s population boom over the past two decades.|
|Updated:||Sunday, 16 June, 2013 at 04:09 UTC|
|Thousands of people were allowed to return home Saturday evening, after fire crews increased their hold on the Black Forest fire. Many more, though, remained displaced, and officials asked those blaze-battered residents for patience while firefighters finish the job. At an afternoon news conference, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said residents living in certain areas on the northern and northwestern edges of the mandatory evacuation zone around the fire would be allowed to go home at 8 p.m. Saturday. The re-opened area accounted for about a quarter of the remaining mandatory evacuation zone, Maketa estimated. Earlier in the day, officials had lifted voluntary and mandatory evacuations for areas in Elbert County and on the fire’s western and southwestern sides in El Paso County. Maketa said he expected Colorado 83 would re-open in both directions Saturday night. The American Red Cross also announced it would be closing two of its three shelters serving the fire. Only the shelter at Palmer Ridge High School in Monument remained open Saturday evening. Rich Harvey, the federal incident commander managing firefighting efforts, said crews had success Saturday in problem areas of the blaze and expected to attack it with equal vigor on Sunday. The fire is now 55 percent contained, Harvey said. Full containment could come mid-week. “We did make good progress all around the fire today,” Harvey said. But the good news was tempered by a new assessment that raised the number of homes destroyed in the fire to 483. And, five days after the fire started, the strain on those still out of their homes began to show. Several dozen residents of Black Forest attended a midday news conference with questions about when they could return to their houses, many of which – if still standing â have remained vacant since Tuesday.|
Two dead as firefighters battle Colorado blaze
updated 1:14 PM EDT, Fri June 14, 2013
An orange sky highlights a fire on Thursday, June 13, that has been burning since June 11 near Colorado Springs. Two major wildfires are scorching thousands of acres and destroying hundreds of homes in the state.
- NEW: The two victims may have been trying to evacuate
- NEW: “If it’s a draw, that’s a victory today,” sheriff says
- The Black Forest Fire has scorched at least 15,700 acres
- Some 360 homes are destroyed; 14 are damaged
Colorado Springs, Colorado (CNN) — Firefighters made little headway Thursday against a raging wildfire near Colorado Springs, Colorado, which has scorched close to 16,000 acres, destroyed 360 homes and claimed at least two lives.
Witnesses spoke to the two victims in the afternoon, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa told reporters.
“They said that they could see a glow to the west. They were packing their personal belongings, trying to get out,” he said.
Earlier, county spokesman Dave Rose told CNN that the Black Forest Fire, burning northeast of the city, now appears to be the most destructive in terms of property lost in state history.
Some 750 firefighters were battling the blaze, which was 5% contained late Thursday. With the help of helicopters and air tankers, they established a loose perimeter.
“The fire is very, very active within the containment area, and we don’t have a high level of confidence at all that we’ll be able to hold all of these lines around this fire,” Rose said.
That marked a dramatic increase from the 8,500 acres officials said had been burned by Wednesday night, he noted.
After he spoke, residents of about 1,000 homes in Colorado Springs were told to evacuate.
“Wind is probably our No. 1 threat,” the sheriff said. Combined with dry brush and high temperatures, the winds have fanned devastating flames.
Maketa struggled to find a phrase to describe how ferocious the fire is, settling on “very dynamic.”
“If it’s a draw, that’s a victory today because we haven’t had too many draws in the last couple of days,” he said.
‘The flames were there’
Among those who lost their home were husband and wife, Jaenette and Kristian Coyne.
“We literally had five minutes, and we left because it was, the flames were there,” Jaenette Coyne told CNN’s AC360 Thursday night.
She said she grabbed a baby album and a personal computer with pictures on it. She also took a firebox, which contained most of the couple’s important documents.
The Coynes actually saw their home burn on live TV.
“It was probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life. You have that moment where you say: ‘Is that really my house?’ But we know it was. However, now I’m grateful that I know. A lot of people here just don’t know,” Jaenette Coyne said.
A county fairground northeast of the Black Forest Fire looked like a Noah’s Ark with families who fled with their animals to escape the looming inferno.
- Forest / Wild Fire – State of Colorado, [Black Forest] : A wildfire charged through the Black Forest area northeast of Colorado Springs, Colo. igniting several large houses (familysurvivalprotocol.com)
- 360 Homes A Total Loss In Black Forest Fire (denver.cbslocal.com)
- Colorado fires sear landscape, force evacuations (cnn.com)
- Two die in Colorado wildfire (rinf.com)
- 379 homes lost in Black Forest Fire, blaze 5-percent contained (kdvr.com)
- Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs damages up to 60 homes (denverpost.com)
- Two Dead, at Least 360 Homes Destroyed by Raging Wildfire (endtimebibleprophecy.wordpress.com)
- Sheriff: At least 92 homes ‘total loss’ by Black Forest Fire, 5 damaged (kdvr.com)
- Hopeful Signs Emerge In Battle Vs. Black Forest Fire (denver.cbslocal.com)
- Hot gusts fuel 4 major wildfires in Colorado (cnsnews.com)