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Inside the Spring Fire

Inside the Spring Fire

This story by Sarah Scoles appeared in the July 20 edition of Wired magazine. Shared with permission.

I first heard about Colorado’s Spring Fire on July 1, when I was driving back from a camping trip. My mom texted me from her home in Florida: “How close are these fires?” I pulled over to a rest stop, called up the federal disaster website Inciweb, and sent her back a screenshot of the wildfire’s perimeter. It seemed far away from my house on the Huerfano County line, like it would have to cross impossible acres to even come close. “Looks like we’re good,” I wrote back.

The Spring Fire is the third largest in the state’s history. By the time I learned about it, the fire already had burned through more than 40,000 acres. A plume of smoke unfurled into a constantly replenished mushroom cloud. It was 0 percent “contained,” meaning that no human-made or natural barrier was stopping the fire’s edge from expanding. Costilla and Huerfano counties had evacuated around 2,000 households by July 2.

The fire had, by then, grown to more than 56,000 acres, just 5 percent contained.

I arrived at my cabin on the 3rd, hose in hand, knowing I couldn’t really help the house but not knowing what else to do. The Spring Fire had bloomed to nearly 80,000 acres. The Transportation Department closed the highway right at the turnoff to my place. Big-bellied planes full of retardant crossed the sky overhead, their flight path traversing part of the bullishly named Wet Valley.

That night, the sunset, reflecting off the smoke particles, was spectacular. The mountains all looked like they were on fire—even the ones that weren’t.

Forty miles south, from their base in the Huerfano county seat of Walsenburg, a group called Rocky Mountain Incident Management Blue Team had taken charge of taming and containing the northern section of the blaze; another team, Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team Black, was assigned to deal with the southern portion. To direct the emergency response personnel—nearly 1,800 people worked the fire at its peak—the group needed a lot of data, a tightly wound plan, and a weirdly Office Space organizational structure.Fire behavior analyst Shelly Crook, Blue Team, is key to that endeavor. She’s in charge of figuring out what the northern portion of the fire is doing and what it will do. Every morning during the Spring Fire, she has woken up in the bed she keeps in the back of her car. By 5 am, she shows up at the ad hoc incident command post—at John Mall High School—to see if an infrared plane went out overnight. “I take stock of that data, and see where the fire moved from the previous perimeter, to see how much it has grown,” she says.This is Crook’s fourth fire this year, and when we spoke, it was her 60th day in the field. (She is “retired.”) “When a fire starts, you kind of drop everything,” she says. And so did the other Western-based members of her team, who converged quickly on the Spring Fire after the call went out from the Geographic Area Coordination Center, which helps mobilize emergency resources.

At their temporary command post in Walsenburg, they have all the divisions a business might, including finance types, HR reps, and porta-potty procurers. Every day, a planning team writes out a 30-page packet of information about everything a firefighter might need, from which frequencies to use for communications to what the weather will be like.

For that latter part, there’s a dedicated meteorologist. He sits next to Crook as part of a unit that prints more than 150 maps every day—county roads and structures, topography from the US Geological Survey, GPS locations from the ground. After Crook checks on the infrared flight, she gets information from her officemate about the relative humidity; she’s hoping that it increased significantly overnight. “If it’s good, the fire is not going to be active as early,” she adds. They dig into data from weather stations—permanent ones and seven RAWS, remote automated weather systems, specially installed at critical Spring Fire locations—informing a forecast Crook will present during morning meetings.

That’s just the beginning of Crook’s day, which she dedicates to predicting the north fire’s next moves, as best she can.

That kind of information eventually makes its way to the community—via in-person meetings and daily one-sheets. The public document released on the Fourth of July waffled in its optimism. “Overnight, calmer winds and lighter fuels slowed fire growth along the south and east flanks of the North Spring Fire,” it says. “Fire activity increased along the northwest flank near Sheep Mountain as it moved into dry, mixed timber.”By the afternoon, data from an infrared flight revealed the fire’s total extent to be 95,739 acres. The pre-evacuation zone, shown on a Google map, now stretched to two miles from my house. To the south, the view from the porch had morphed into a wall of smoke. I did the things on a preevacuation checklist, just in case: take down curtains, close and unlock windows, turn off the gas, turn on the lights, bring everything in off the porch. I used the hose to fill buckets with water and place them around the house. I didn’t need to (pre-pre-evacuation is just nonevacuation), but my nerves had history: When I was 12, a Florida wildfire destroyed 30 structures in my rural area, and my family didn’t get out in time. On our path down the highway, the road was blocked by fire, and we spent hours in a landfill entryway, surrounded by flames.There are concrete steps individual citizens can take to become more firewise in general: Get the gunk out of gutters, clear defensible no-brush space around your house, keep wood piles and propane a few dozen feet away, screen all openings so embers don’t sneak in. But sometimes, despite best efforts, Mother Nature wields an upper hand. By this point in the fire, on the Fourth, more than 100 homes had been lost.

At 6 p.m., I tuned in to the community briefing, streamed via Facebook Live from the small town of La Veta.

“Happy Fourth of July, everybody,” says David Detray, fire chief of the La Veta area. “I want to give you this picture of your La Veta Fire Protection District personnel.” On the screen behind him, eight firefighters, two holding American flags and one holding a giant teddy bear, stood in a V, seemingly paused in a march through an otherwise empty street.

This picture was from the main street in Cuchara, an 8,500-foot-high village that had been evacuated. Citizens couldn’t hold their annual Independence Day parade, which they’ve done for some 50 years. So the firefighters took a moment to stage a miniature, kind of morbid one for them.

“These are your people,” Detray declares.

In the Blue Team’s update, operations section chief Chris Zoller notes where the fire had been “pushing,” expanding its edge by 6,000 to 7,000 acres. He moves on to an area, full of trees, where the fire would soon hit a road and move into a region called “Paradise Acres.” “This is going to be our trouble area for the next 24 hours,” he says.

After presenting her initial forecast at Rocky Mountain Incident Management Blue Team morning meetings, Crook goes right back into prediction mode. She feeds information into models that forecast the fire’s behavior, part of the Wildland Fire Decision Support System—a powerful tool that gobbles up data from multiple sources to support wildfire strategy making. Some of the information it sucks in comes from a federal program called Landfire, which can help firefighters tell what is growing on the affected ground, how it burns, and how topography flows beneath it.Although the support system itself is much newer, these federal prediction models have been in development for around 30 years. “They’ve morphed and become more robust,” according to Crook. She has two favorites: the three-day perimeter projection, and the fire spread probability prediction. “It tells me over the course of the next seven to 14 days what is the probability of the fire impacting any point on the landscape,” she says.But simulations can only simulate. So in the afternoon, Crook heads out with the firefighters and comes back with ground truth. She can feed specific information back into the models—essentially calibrating them to the north Spring Fire. Still, it’s not a perfect system. “There’s a bit of a mystery on every fire,” Crook adds.

There’s also a bit of logistical challenge: not just where to put the porta-potties, but also how to get the humans and heavy equipment you need. When the Spring Fire started and Rocky Mountain Incident Management Blue Team showed up on the scene, the fire was already moving fast. They needed to act. But the rest of the state also seemed to be on fire. “It took like four days before I was able to get the resources to even come close to what we needed to help start suppressing the fire,” says Jay Esperance, the Blue Team’s incident commander.

But that, he notes, is life. “There’s only so many firefighters and equipment, and we were the new show in town.”

Once the heavy machinery did arrive, it was substantial. At one point, there were 17 bulldozers to clear out lines of land to contain the blaze, two “masticators” to chew up brush and other small-diameter stuff, and skidders to move logs.

In addition to ground-bound resources, the Spring Fire fighters also took to the sky. They used planes and helicopters, although Zoller calls them “fixed-wing” and “rotor-wing” aircraft. The planes that combated this blaze—stashed in fire-prone regions across the country during the volatile season—included single-engine flyers and VLATs, Very Large Air Tankers. Both carried fire retardant that spilled from their bellies like paintball powder. The helicopters took care of the H-2-O. “Water is for the immediate need to cool things down,” says Zoller. Retardant, meanwhile, slows the fire down.

Above the winged craft flies an “eye in the sky”: an in-the-air air-traffic controller. “He directs all the traffic, and keeps the rotor-wing out of the way of the fixed-wing,” explains Zoller.

Because the last thing anyone needs during a wildfire is a plane crash.

At a July 11 evacuee meeting in Fort Garland, which once hosted a functional military fort, a southern-section public information officer took the stage. “We’re going to start off with some good news,” she says. The entire fire was 83 percent contained, and the southern perimeter was entirely under control. Team Black was going home.Crook’s Blue Team took over the whole operation, which, two days later, was 91 percent contained. The northern edge of the fire stayed far enough from my house that I never had to evacuate, and the Blue Team soon packed up, leaving operations to local teams on July 16. On their way out of town, they decontaminated their equipment to avoid transporting invasive species, “weed-washing” the outside with high-pressure hoses, and burning the insides of tanks with 140-degree water.The path to recovery will be long and hard, like the roads that climb up through the high mountain passes here. According to the Denver Post, the area has brought in the disaster cleanup nonprofit Team Rubicon to help, and a group called the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster will assist too. More than 225 structures were destroyed, according to a July 18 report from the National Interagency Coordination Center. What was forest is charred trunks, scorched earth.

No matter how much data anyone or any satellites take, it’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen next for the communities. But if one of Crook’s models could provide post-fire forecasts, it would probably say that life will slowly grow back toward normal.

Current Fire Ban Information

Current Fire Ban Information

Custer and Fremont counties have lifted all fire bans. Please notify the sheriff’s office before burning.

Custer County 719-783-2270

Fremont County 719-276-5555.

Huerfano County remains under Stage One Fire Ban restrictions.

Fire and Smoking Restrictions have been rescinded on public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) located on the Leadville, San Carlos and Salida Ranger Districts of the San Isabel National Forest.

STAGE ONE PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES

1.
All agricultural burning including but not limited to weeds, brush, or grass;
2.
Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, coal or wood burning stove, fireplace, any type of
charcoal or wood fueled cooking, or open fire of any type in an undeveloped area. Use of a coal or woodburning stove or fireplace
in a private residence in an undeveloped area is allowed only if the flue pipe, chimney, or other exhaust structure is
equipped with a properly installed N FPA-approved spark arrestor such as a chimney cap.
Notes:
a.
Campfires contained in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within a developed recreation area are allowed;
b.
Grills using propane and other bottled fuels are allowed only in areas free of flammable vegetation and other flammable materials,
and must be used in a manner which present no fire danger to the surrounding area;
c.
No fire or grill shall be left unattended, and shall have an adequate water supply and/or fire extinguisher on site.
3.
All burning of trash, refuse or other debris.
4.
Smoking; except within an enclosed vehicle, building, or outdoor smoking area that is hard-surfaced, barren, or
otherwise cleared of all flammable vegetation and material. Discarding of cigarette butts in a receptacle not
designed for disposal of cigarette butts, or at any location, or from any vehicle is expressly prohibited.
5.
Using any explosives materials, to include: fireworks, solid fuel rockets,blasting caps or any incendiary device
which may result in the ignition of flammable material;
6.
Outdoor welding, grinding or use of any type of torch in any area which presents the possibility of igniting vegetation
or other combustible material, and there must be an adequate water supply and/or fireextinguisher on site;
7.
Operating any outdoor equipment or machinery in an undeveloped area with an internal combustion engine
without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order meeting either:
a.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service Standard 5100-1a; or
b. Appropriate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)
recommended practice J335(b) and J350(a);
8.
Sale, use and possession of fireworks, including permissible fireworks as defined in §12-28-101, C.R.S., however in
no instance shall the sale, use and possession be prohibited for more than one year from the date of imposition of the
fire restrictions until the suspension of the same.

STAGE TWO PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES

1.

All Restrictions contained in Stage One, listed BELOW, and including the following additional restrictions:
a.
Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, coal or wood burning stove, any type of charcoal
or wood fueled cooking, or open fire of any type at any location.
Notes:
1.
Grills using propane and other bottled fuels are allowed only in areas free of flammable vegetation and other flammable
materials, and must be used in a manner which present no fire danger to the surrounding area;
2.
No grill shall be left unattended, and shall have an adequate water supply and/or fire extinguisher on site.
3.
Use of a coal or wood-burning stove or fireplace in a private residence is allowed only if the flue pipe, chimney, or other
exhaust structure is equipped with a properly installed NFPA-approved spark arrestor such as a chimney cap.
b.
Off road use or parking of a motorized vehicle in an area which presents the possibility of sparks or exhaust heat igniting
surrounding flammable vegetation.
A.
Local Road Closure info

Local Road Closure info

Pass Creek road is closed for the foreseeable future. Huerfano County has not been able to fully inspect the damage. Tentative plans are to get it open as a 4wd by this winter and start restoration work in 2019.

Highway 69 is open as of 10 am Sunday, July 29. Pass Creek Road remains closed.

Here is the press release from CDOT:

CO 69 Now Open to One Lane Traffic
Vehicles to be controlled by portable light signals

SOUTHEAST COLORADO ― CO Highway 69 is now open to traffic. Crews have constructed a temporary detour lane three miles north of Gardner, next to the bridge which was damaged by a flash flood last week. The detour, for now, is controlled by portable light signals to single-lane, alternating traffic. Travelers are urged to use caution while driving through the area, as a short section of the detour road is a dirt surface.
Crews will continue work to pave the entire length of the detour road and paint striping for two-way traffic. The temporary detour road is expected to be completed in about a week, and will continue to be used for the duration of the larger bridge replacement project.

CDOT began a project earlier this summer to replace the aged wooden bridge structure on CO 69 near Gardner. The temporary detour road was being worked on when the flash flood occurred. The bridge replacement project is set for completion in spring of 2019.

 

 

up to date fire information

up to date fire information

UPDATE JULY 13 2:30 pm

All evacuation and pre evacuation notices have been rescinded.   Highway 69 is open.
Official Spring Fire update, July 13 9:30am

Spring Fire map, July 13

UPDATE JULY 12 5:00 pm

All mandatory evacuations and pre evacuations are lifted as of 6:00 pm
Jesper Joergensen, accused of starting the Spring Fire, has been formally charged with 141 counts of first degree arson, one count for each of the structures burned.

UPDATE JULY 12 10:00 am

Highway 69 remains closed between mile markers 5 and 42.  Latest info at  cdot site
Official Spring Fire update, July 12. South part of fire is contained, overall containment 87%. NW perimeter of fire still not contained.

Fire map as of July 11

Current evac / pre evac map

UPDATE JULY 9 10:00 am

ROAD CLOSURES

Highway 69 remains closed to through traffic south of the Huerfano/Custer County line to mile marker 5 outside of Walsenberg. Local traffic only. Highway 160 is currently open but subject to periodic closures due to fire activity. Current information available at the  cdot site.

 

SPRING FIRE

Spring Fire map, July 9 9:00am

Text of the 9am Monday official update on the Spring Fire:

Spring ck Fire Update (south)
July 9, 2018 – 9:00 a.m.

Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Black
Shane Greer, Incident Commander

Information Center: 719-695-9573
Media line: 719-695-0091
Hours of Operation: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Special notes: The fire acreage is now 107,627. Containment has risen to 70%.

Current Situation: As containment percentages increase, crews on the Spring Fire (south) begin to focus their efforts on mop-up, repair of fire suppression activities, and backhaul (removing or relocating) of unneeded equipment. Utility companies are working to repair infrastructure within the impacted areas. Conditions remain hot and dry, with minimal potential for moisture and a possibility for lightning. While overall fire behavior is calming, spotting is still a potential in these conditions. As fire continues to consume interior fuels, smoke and some flame will still be visible in some areas.

Many residents are returning to the burned area. Fire management wishes to remind residents to stay on high alert for their own safety. There are still crews working in the areas, using heavy equipment and chainsaws. Residents may encounter “hazard trees” or snags – trees that are weakened from burning or hanging precariously on other trees. These trees may fall over without notice. There are various types of debris underfoot, and burned stump holes/ash pits are a tripping hazard and a burn hazard. Residents are also encouraged to utilize proper protective equipment when sorting through damaged property or burned landscape. This includes protective masks (N-95 or P-100), eye protection, heavy work gloves, long sleeves and pants, and sturdy boots.

Division D is now completely contained, and crews are mopping up around structures. Crews in Division D will construct contingency firelines east of Highway 160 to support any burnout operations in Division RR on the North Spring Fire.

Most of Division A is now contained, and crews are cleaning up the perimeter edge to complete containment of Division A in the coming days.

In Division Z, the Smokey Bear and Flathead Hotshot crews performed firing operations late into the evening, contributing to the last critical components of containment in Division Z. Today, these crews will ensure this area stays secure.

Crews in Division N have successfully completed the fireline. Today, crews will focus on mop-up and rehabilitation of dozer line.

Division K and Division E are now considered fully contained. Crews in these divisions monitor, patrol, and work on rehabilitation.

Weather: Conditions remain hot and dry, with the chance of wetting rain at 10%. Temperature may reach the upper 80s, approaching 90F in some areas. Higher elevations (above 8500 ft) will be in the high 70s to low 80s. Relative humidity lows are 12%. Winds will start out of the west-southwest early in the day at 6-9 mph with gusts up to 18 mph. The wind will shift and come from the east by late morning, blowing at 7-12 mph with gusts to 20 mph. Storm cells could produce outflow gusts up to 30 mph.

Closures and Evacuations: Highway 160 is open in both directions. There is no stopping, parking, or standing outside of vehicles along the highway or shoulder from La Veta to Ft Garland. Please check www.cotrip.org for the most recent updates. Highway 12 is closed from mm 7 to mm 22.5. Highway 69 is closed from mm 5 to mm 42 (open to local traffic only). For current evacuee information: Huerfano County: visit www.facebook.com/HuerfanoCountyOEM or call 211 for in-state phone numbers or 719-583-6611 for out of state phone numbers. Costilla County: visit the San Luis Valley Emergency page: www.slvemergency.org or call 719-480-8719 between the hours of 10 a.m and 3 p.m. Las Animas County: https://www.facebook.com/LAS-Animas-County-OEM-1417285551649252/ or 719-846-2993 ext. 0.

For More Information:
Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5875/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SpringFire2018/
Twitter: @Springfire2018 Fire Info Line: 719-695-9573
Social media identifiers are now #springfire for both areas, #southspringfire (Team Black), and #northspringfire (Team Blue).

Spring Fire Statistics:
Start Date: June 27, 2018 Location: 9 miles east of Ft Garland, CO Size: 107,627
Percent Contained: 70% Resources: 1745 (678 in the south) Cause: Human caused, under Investigation

Evacuee Meeting: There is a daily 1 p.m. meeting for evacuees held at the evacuation center located at the Blanca/Ft Garland Community Center, 17591 E Hwy 160. The meetings will be live streamed on Facebook for those who cannot attend.

 

ADOBE FIRE

The Forest Service has issued their final update on the Adobe Fire. The fire remains at 85 acres and 95% containment. KLZR will provide updates on the Adobe Fire only if there are new developments.

QUARRY FIRE

The Quarry Fire in Fremont County is less than 10 acres and is 90% contained as of Sunday afternoon

UPDATE JULY 8 1:30 pm

 

ROAD CLOSURES

Highway 160 is currently open but subject to periodic closures due to fire activity. Latest information at cdot site.

SPRING FIRE

Update as of Sunday July 8, 9:30 am

Spring Fire perimeter map, July 8

ADOBE FIRE

The Adobe Fire is 85 acres with 95% containment. Today 4 crews and 1 dozer are being released from the fire. Remaining resources are using hose lays and hand tools to continue mop up within the fire perimeter.

UPDATE July 8 8:00 am

US 160 has reopened … for the latest info please visit the official  cdot site.

UPDATE July 7 3:30 pm

US 160 was open for all of 1/2 hour. It has been closed once again due to increased wildfire activity.

UPDATE JULY 7 2:30 pm

ROAD CLOSURES

US 160 is now open

SPRING FIRE

Latest Spring Fire map July 7

Latest evac and pre evac map  July 7 2:00 pm

UPDATE 10:45 am JULY 7

ROAD CLOSURES

For the latest road closure information information please visit cdot site.

This information is current as of Saturday morning at 10:45 am

 

  • Road Closed
    160

    W

    US 160 Westbound / Eastbound La Veta Pass (Milemarker 258-293)
    Closed due to a nearby wildfire. Expected to reopen on Sat. July 7, 2PM. Use alternate route.

    Last Updated: 07/6/2018 9:13 AM

  • Road Closed
    12

    W

    CO 12 Westbound / Eastbound La Veta – Cuchara Pass (Milemarker 7-22.5)
    Closed due to nearby wildfire. No estimated time for reopening.

    Last Updated: 07/4/2018 2:03 PM

  • Road Closed – Fire Department Activity
    69

    S

    CO 69 Southbound / Northbound Red Rock Rd – Custer County Line (Milemarker 5-42)
    Closed due to a nearby wildfire. No estimated time for reopening. Limited local traffic.

ADOBE FIRE

The Adobe Fire is 85 acres with 95% containment as of 7:30 am Saturday morning. Crews are using hose lays and hand tools to continue mop up within the fire perimeter. Due to the hard work by firefighters, both local and Forest Service, demobilization of resources will start soon.

SPRING FIRE

Update on the North Spring Fire as of Saturday July 7, 9:30 am

Spring Fire map as of July 6 6pm

 

 

UPDATE JULY 6 1:22pm

UPDATED 1:22 pm JULY 6

Here is the latest update on the North part of the Spring Fire.

UPDATED 11:00 am JULY 6

We have a new link, this is an official website that contains lots of great information about the Spring Fire Official Spring Fire Resource Page

Viaero Communications webcam E of Ft Garland

Here is the latest update on the South part of the Spring Fire. Rain yesterday and chance of the same today offer a reason for cautious optimism

The most recent evacuation map

 

UPDATED 9:45 am JULY 6

Highway 160 to reopen Saturday

SOUTHWEST and SOUTHEAST COLORADO ― The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will reopen US Highway (US) 160/La Veta Pass in both directions on Saturday, July 7 at 2:00 p.m. US 160 has been closed since Thursday, June 27 from from Fort Garland, mile point (MP) 258, to La Veta, MP 294, due to the Spring Fire.
CO Highway (CO) 69 will remain closed, in both directions, from 5 miles north of Walsenburg (MP 5) to the Huerfano/Custer County Line (MP 42). Local traffic will be permitted on CO 69 with proof of residence. CO 12 will also remain closed northbound and southbound CO 12 from CR 420 (MP 7) in La Veta to the summit of Cuchara Pass (MP 22.5).

UPDATED 8:45 am JULY 6

Tomi Price’s photos of the Spring Fire

ROAD CLOSURES

No change in current road closures. Visit http://www.cotrip.org  for the latest information

US 160 is closed in both directions over La Veta Pass between Fort Garland – La Veta due to a nearby wildfire. No estimated time for reopening. Possible alternate route: US 50 west of Pueblo to US 285.
CO Hwy 12 is closed between the Cuchara Pass area – La Veta.
CO Hwy 69 is closed between Red Rock Rd (5 miles west of I-25) and the Custer County Line. Road is open to local traffic only.

ADOBE FIRE

Great news in the daily update on the Adobe Fire released July 6 @ 8:30 am

The Adobe Fire is holding at 85 acres with 72% containment. There is a combination of dozer, hose lays and hand line on the fire. There was no aircraft used yesterday, however, crews used hose lays and hand tools to continue extinguishing hot spots within the fire perimeter.
Increasing moisture is expected throughout the day with a chance of scattered thunderstorms early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Morning winds are expected from the southwest at 5mph shifting to the southeast in the afternoon. Temperatures on the mountain are expected to be in the low 70’s by this afternoon.
Due to the continued efforts to suppress the Adobe Fire all pre-evacuations in both the Fremont and Custer Counties are now lifted.

SPRING FIRE

We expect to receive the daily update by 11:00 am July 6. Latest statistics from the the official inciweb page as of 8:30 pm July 5:

35% containment, Estimated day of full containment July 31, Personnel on ground 1444

This map shows the progression of the Spring Fire from June 27 to July 5

UPDATED 7:00 PM July 5

SECOM internet service has been restored to the valley as of 6:30 pm. Service speeds will be slow in the near term. Updates as KLZR receives them.

most recent fire map, July 5 am

Sky Crane loading retardant at La Veta helibase

UPDATED NEWS 11:00 am Wednesday July 4

Two newest maps of the Spring Fire. Infrared map from flyovers Tuesday night July 3

Spring Fire map released Tuesday morning, July 4

ADOBE FIRE

Here is the official update on the Adobe Fire, released 10am July 4

Adobe Fire update July 4, 2018

The Adobe Fire was first reported at 2:00pm July 2, 2018 caused by lightning. The Adobe Fire is located in the San Carlos Ranger District in the Northern Wet Mountains, Adobe Peak. Immediately, Wet Mountain Volunteer Fire Station responded followed by the Forest Service. Adobe Fire resources included 4 air tankers, 3 helicopters, 5 hand crews, 5 engine modules, 1 water tender and 1 bulldozer..

The Fire is still estimated to be 85 acres with 0% containment. Today we are expecting increasing moisture with a chance of isolated thunderstorms early in the afternoon. Morning winds are expected from the west at 5mph and in the afternoon southeast winds are expected with gusts of 20 mph. There is a chance of lightning later this afternoon with possible outflow winds from thunder storms. Temperatures on the mountain are expected to be in the mid 80’s by this afternoon.

Pre-evacuations are still in effect south of county road 15 in the Freemont County to the Custer County line as well as three subdivisions Adobe Creek, Trinity Ranch and TV Hills in Custer County. When pre-evacuations are in effect this means that all residents in these areas should have essential possessions identified and ready to pack in the case a full evacuation is ordered.

Residents should expect to see smoke throughout the day. As a reminder fireworks are always prohibited on Federal Lands and there are fire restrictions for the state of Colorado which include fireworks but, please have a happy Independence Day! If you have any questions regarding the Adobe Fire please email us at adobefire18@gmail.com or call 719-299-0574.

UPDATED NEWS 10:00 am Wednesday July 4

ROAD CLOSURES

US 160 is closed in both directions over La Veta Pass between Fort Garland – La Veta . No estimated time for reopening. Possible alternate route: US 50 west of Pueblo to US 285. Hwy 12 west of Trinidad is *NOT* a suitable alternate route.
CO Hwy 12 is closed between the Cuchara Pass area – La Veta.
CO Hwy 69 is closed between Red Rock Rd (5 west of I-25) and the Custer County Line. Road is open to local traffic only.

For the latest information please visit the CDOT web site

SPRING FIRE

Update from KLZR friend Carole McNitt:
UPDATE ON THE SPRING FIRE: The fire, for Wednesday morning July 4th. You can find the official report on the team Facebook page called “Spring Fire 2018”. The fire stands at 94,093 acres, and burned in several directions yesterday. They are making progress on many fronts, but when the fire grows each day, it keeps the containment levels looking low. It moved on the north side from Silver Mountain to Sheep Mountain and burned in heavy fuels so you may have seen the red glow of that last night. There are two small sections of fire ahead of the main body that moved into the Sheep Mountain area, and the northern tip of that is still 6.5 miles or more from Gardner. They will be working on containment lines on the north side again today. The fire moved on the south towards the edge of Cuchara Valley, but so far lines held. There were NEW PRE EVACUATIONS TO THE SOUTH EAST SIDE OF THE FIRE AS REPORTED HERE BY LAS ANIMAS OEM: A Pre-Evacuation Order is now in place for all residents in the area south of the Huerfano/Las Animas County Line south to County Road 42 and East to County road 21.7 and west to Highway12. This area includes all phases of Cuchara Pass Ranches, Timber Creek Ranch, Timber Ridge @ Cordova Pass and Spanish Peak Ranch Estates. Residents in these areas should start planning and preparing to evacuate, if the need should arise. The new PRE evacuation map is below. Today we will have lowered winds from the South, switching to East-Northeast winds later in the day, which could push the fire back on itself. Winds 5 to 10 mph, temperature of 86 to 90 degrees and a bit higher humidity will hopefully make for better firefighting conditions.
Perimeter map, July 3 pm

Evacuation map, Las Animas / Huerfano counties   July 3 pm

 

UPDATED NEWS 8:30 pm Tuesday July 3

ADOBE FIRE

Incident Commander Paul Musser and Custer County Sheriff Shannon Byerly  brought us the latest news on the Adobe Fire in their press conference Tuesday afternoon.

The Adobe Fire is located in the San Carlos Ranger District in the Northern Wet Mountains, Adobe Peak. As of 12pm the Adobe Fire has grown to an estimated 85 acres. The fire has progressed eastwardly.

Preevacuations are still in order for South of County Road 15 in Fremont County to the Custer County line as well as the Custer County subdivisions of Adobe Creek, Trinity Ranch and TV Hills.

The USDA Forest Service Pike and San Isabel National Forests and the San Carlos Ranger District have issued a forest closure from highway 96 to Oak Creek Grade Road and along the West and East forest boundary lines. The following acts are prohibited on all National Forest System lands within the Adobe Fire Area on the San Isabel National Forest, Freemont and Custer Counties; going into or being upon the restricted area, being on the restricted roads and being on the restricted trails.

HIGHWAY CLOSURE

As of Tuesday evening, Highway 69 remains closed between Walsenberg and Huerfano county line.

For the latest information please visit the CDOT web site

 

SPRING FIRE

Here are the most recent available maps of the Spring Fire

 

Here are links to two different live webcam views of the Spring Fire. KLZR thanks KRDO TV and Viaero Communications for permission to share.

Viaero Communications webcam E of Ft Garland
Viaero Communications webcam in La Veta

 

 

UPDATED NEWS  9:30 am Tuesday July 3

ADOBE FIRE

The Adobe Fire was at an estimated 20 acres Monday afternoon, according to the Forest Service. Heavy Air Tankers and Single Engine Aircraft are being used in the firefight, as air supression is dropping water and fire retardant on the blaze. There are 100 personnel fighting the fire. Smoke is visible from Canon and Florence. According to the Custer County Sheriff’s Office, the fire was discovered when a Forest Service plane was en route to the Spring Fire and saw smoke in the area at 2:20 pm Monday, July 2.

This is in the area of Willow Creek above the Adobe Creek subdivision in Wetmore. Adobe Creek, Trinity Ranch and TV Hills Subdivisions have been put on pre-evacuation status. Additional areas have also been put in pre-evacuation notice, including Florence Mountain Park. Early reports incorrectly identified the fire’s location as Bear Basin Ranch.

There are no structures threatened at this time.

 

SPRING FIRE

The latest official information on the Spring Fire is available on Facebook (Spring Fire) and Twitter (@SpringFire2018)

Latest official update,  am Tuesday, July 3

 

A Mandatory Evacuation Order is now in place for all residents in the area north of and including both sides of County Road 362, south to the Huerfano County Line. This area includes the School Creek, Wahotoya Valley, Little Kansas, and East Spanish Peaks communities, the area known as the “Mesa,” as well as the west side of Shangri La. These areas were formerly under a pre-evacuation notice. Residents in the affected area should evacuate immediately. Anyone is leaving an evac or pre-evac area they need to be sure and check in with Huerfano County EOC so they are accounted for. Otherwise they may have valuable
resources searching for them.

There is a daily 1pm meeting for evacuees of the that is held at the evacuation center located at the Blanca/Ft Garland Community Center, 17591 E Hwy 160. These meetings will provide resources to evacuees as well as a fire update.

Elisa Livengood, Custer County Public Health Director, indicates there is a plan in place for Custer County evacuations should they become necessary. There are no evacuation or pre evacuation notices for Custer County at this time.

Here is a link to the official list of the 104 structures destroyed in the Spring Fire as of early Tuesday morning, July 3.

Details on 104 structures destroyed

Spring Fire image taken overnight, July 2 / July 3

Here is a report from KLZR friend Carole McNitt. These reports are based on official releases and on site firefighting reports. Please visit the official Twitter and Facebook sites referenced above for the latest official fire information.

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SPRING FIRE MORNING UPDATE TUESDAY 9:00 AM. This is my current update, from last night’s infrared flight, on the scene engine crew reports, mapping and some official fire details. THE OFFICIAL MORNING BRIEFING WILL BE OUT SOON at Spring Fire 2018’s Facebook page: The Spring Fire was over 60,000 acres last night, and we will know better acreage later this morning. People seeing flames during the night from Westcliffe were seeing the east side of Silver Mountain burning with dense fuels. That is about 40 miles from Westcliffe. The fire burned to the South towards Cuchara, and is almost to Highway 12, so there were new evacuations there last night. On the north side of Highway 160, there were rumors Gardner was under mandatory evacuation but it was not, it was a momentary glitch in the evacuation statement. In the Silver Mountain area, the fire will reach the lower elevations today which should slow down forward progress in lighter fuels, and allow planes and dozers to put lines in. The fire did burn to the NE, which put the northern edge of the fire about 7.5 miles from Gardner, but it is not to Sheep Mountain yet, it is a mile or two south of Sheep Mountain. Today’s weather will prove to be another tough firefighting day, then things may improve as cooler temps and lower winds are on the way. But today is a Red Flag Day, with winds 5 to 15, with higher gusts, winds increasing through the afternoon to 17 miles per hour FROM the SE (pushing to the NE), so that, along with the Highway 12 areas will be the two main focus points for firefighting efforts today. There will be a guided media tour today along 160, and the process of notifying homeowners of their property status has begun, on a one to one basis. Homeowners have been assigned their own PIO (Public Information Officer).

KLZR thanks Carole for this report!

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Here are links to two different live webcam views of the Spring Fire. KLZR thanks KRDO TV and Viaero Communications for permission to share.

Viaero Communications webcam E of Ft Garland
Viaero Communications webcam in La Veta