Sunday, June 23, 2013

West Fork Fire, Windy Peak Fire - 6/23/13 - 4pm - unofficial update

Sunday morning and the fires continue to burn although it seems like the Windy Peak Fire on the other side of the mountain from Wolf Creek Ski Area has slowed, in fact some sources don't even report the fire.

The town of South Fork remains OK, in part because the fire came to an Aspen Forest that wouldn't light up, so the fire took a detour.  The town remains evacuated, with a large contingent of fire fighters and equipment ready to confront any renewed threat to the town.  Further into the mountains the West Fork Complex has burned close to 70,000 acres as of Saturday afternoon.

Further east the East Peak Fire near Walsenburg continues growing to over 10,000 acres, though it's reported to be 10% contained.

It's sad to note that the last update on the official Archuleta County Emergency Information website is from 3:36pm Friday the 21st.  And, in fact the Colorado Fire Maps website's last update is from yesterday morning.  Although sometimes no news is good news and I imagine if something radical happened they'd get it out there in a hurry.  

And even if nothing radical happens they'll let us know:

West Fork Fire Complex:This is the 5th day of Red Flag warnings. As in previous days, the fires are very active during the afternoon burning period, especially on the north of the West Fork Fire and on the Papoose Fire.  At this time there are no additional road closures and because of the intensity of the fire and the heave smoke we do not have any updates on acreage or any specifics on the movement of the fires.  When we have additional information we will post it on this site. 
Windy Pass Fire:  The Windy Pass Fire which is currently burning in an area with less dense vegetation than the other two fires, made a few short runs towards Lane Creek yesterday. Though there has been little growth in Windy Pass Fire, it has the potential to move into the volatile bug-killed vegetation on either the west or east side of the existing perimeter.  Firefighters have been able to hold the Windy Pass Fire within the established indirect containment lines protecting the Wolf Pass Ski Area and additional engines to provide protection for the ski resort will be assigned to the fire today. 
Weather:  A Red Flag Warning is in effect today due to low relative humidity, strong winds, and a Haines Index of 6.  The Haines Index measures the stability and dryness of the air over the fire.  A Haines Index of 6 indicates that there is a high potential for extreme fire behavior, intensity, and growth.

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At the same time this was being released - 
3 o'clock in the afternoon, {hottest part of the day}, I took a walk to a place where I have a view of the eastern horizon and the Great Divide nearly a hundred miles away.

The southern smoke plumb which I'm thinking is the Wind Pass Fire was large and growing before my eyes.  So I have the feeling this could be a tough afternoon and evening for firefighters.
I wish them the best.

Ironically,  from a long view pragmatic environmental stand point, this fire is probably a healthy event for this forest considering it had already been killed by bark beetles.

On the down side it is a specter of what we have done to our children's natural heritage.

Incidentally have you folks noticed the extreme unprecedented floods in Calgary and Europe and Asia?

While Republican power-politic continue to deny climate science, or take any action to address the reality,  these are the fruits of their labors.

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UPDATE from the Colorado Fire Maps website:

West Fork Complex Fire – morning update June 23rd, 2013Posted on June 23, 2013 by Tpfiddle 
The West Fork Complex Fire consists of 3 fires. 
The West Fork Fire, Windy Pass Fire and Papoose fire. A Red Flag warning remains in effect in the area for the 5th day in a row. 
The fire has now consumed a total of 70,257 acres. There are 526 personnel working on the West Fork Complex. The Windy Pass Fire has not expanded much, however, due to the large amount of beetle-killed vegetation in the area, this fire still has the potential for growth on both the west and east sides. 
Primary road closures in the are are Highway 160 from the chain-up area to South Fork, and Highway 149 between South Fork and Creede from mile marker 1 through mile marker 22. 
West Fork Road and along East Fork Road remain on pre-evacuation. 
See our large West Fork Fire Complex Map for the latest fire perimeters & previous days’ perimeters to track growth.
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"West Fork fire complex at nearly 66,200 acres and feeding on beetle-ravaged forests"
UPDATED:   06/23/2013 12:06:37 AM MDT 
By Bruce Finley  |  The Denver Post 

SOUTH FORK — Wildfires spread to an estimated 66,200 acres Saturday in spruce-beetle-ravaged forests, continuing to imperil tourist towns on the west edge of Colorado's San Luis Valley. 
The West Fork fire complex, which now includes the fast-growing Papoose wildfire west of Creede, was fed by chaotic and often-intense winds and was the largest of more than a dozen wildfires around the state . 
The ravaging by spruce beetles of thousands of acres of Rio Grande National Forest over the past decade "made it just inevitable that something would set it afire," Mineral County Commissioner Scott Lamb said.
"This is probably far from over, if the weather doesn't change," he said. "Wind is the most important factor in firefighters' ability to contain the fire."
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West Fork Complex Fire Continues To Grow, Threatening South Fork 
KKTV - Updated: Sat 11:32 PM, Jun 22, 2013story and video
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A series of reports
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The Society driven Global Warming connection:

Science Daily - Apr. 29, 2009 — Fire's potent and pervasive effects on ecosystems and on many Earth processes, including climate change, have been underestimated, according to a new report... 
Journal Reference
Bowman et al. Fire in the Earth SystemScience, 2009; 324 (5926): 481-484 DOI: 10.1126/science.1163886

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Western wildfires like the Black Forest Fire in Colorado have been increasing in frequency and duration in recent years, burning far more land and with greater intensity. Scientists say climate change is a major factor. 

By Staff writer / June 15, 2013 
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As many have pointed out global warming is global and no one is immune.

By Eric Bellman  |  June 22, 2013, 4:08 PM 
 Southeast Asia could have to brace for more forest fires and clouds of smoke if climate change takes hold, a World Bank expert suggests. 
As temperatures climb, some parts of Southeast Asia will likely flood with rising sea levels while others face drought and heat waves. Drier jungles and peatlands in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and elsewhere could trigger more fires and spread more choking smoke across the region in the years to come...
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