We’ve seen it before. Smoke rising thousands of feet into the air, the acrid smell of smoke, and tragic loss of forest, wildlife, property, and even human life.
The Hayman Fire, Waldo Canyon Fire, and the Black Forest Fire are not distant memories. The legacies of these events still affect us today in the form of flooding due to erosion, and will last for many years.
The blackened skeletal remains of once sweet smelling pines are a stark reminder that fire has passed this way.
Right now there are six forest fires burning in Colorado.
The Cold Creek Fire, west of Boulder is the only one that is 100 percent contained. It burned just over 500 acres and destroyed eight homes, including the home of two firefighters who were actively fighting the fire when they learned their home was gone. Two out of state campers were arrested and charged with third-degree arson for starting the blaze.
The Beaver Creek Fire burning north of Walden has burned about 22,294 acres. It is five percent contained. The fire, which started June 19, is the largest fire burning in Colorado. The fire is zero percent contained and the cause is still unknown.
The Hayden Pass Fire is burning near Coaldale, between Canon City and Salida, just outside our region. This is the fire that is sending smoke into Teller and El Paso Counties and is making many residents quite nervous.
On Saturday morning, fire officials said it has now burned 16,204 acres since it was started by a lightning strike on July 8.
One hundred forty homes have been evacuated.
According to a report by Denver 7 news, Fremont County Sheriff Jim Beicker confirmed the first structure has been lost in the fire — a summer cabin in the Cottonwood Creek area.
Beicker said they are allowing homeowners who were first evacuated to return to their homes for a couple hours starting at 8 a.m. on Friday to grab belongings and check their properties. People evacuated from County Road 6, County Road 40 and the Fox Creek Subdivision must sign up at the entrance of their subdivisions by 5 p.m. Thursday to be escorted back to their homes.
The sheriff said if homeowners are unable to be there in time, they can have a neighbor sign-up for them.
Residents will need their I.D. and should be prepared to provide additional information to verify they live in the area. The sheriff said homeowners will be given two hours before they’re escorted back outside the evacuation area.
At this point, other people who have been evacuated from the fire will not be allowed back to their homes.
“Strong winds, dry conditions and the large volume of dead woody debris in the area contributed to this rapid growth,” according to Forest Service officials..
There are 442 fire personnel assigned to the fire.
Firefighters said they expect the fire to have significant growth and move south Thursday with big plumes and a northwest wind.
The Kelso Fire has burned 1,486 acres 40 miles south of Grand Junction.
The fire was sparked by lighting on June 14.
“There are four areas of heat showing within the perimeter of the fire,” according to fire officials. “Firefighters will continue to patrol and monitor this fire perimeter and additional burning that may occur.”
The Black Ridge Fire was reported 14 miles southwest of Durango Wednesday.
The fire has burned about 50 acres, according to Durango Fire Rescue.
Officials said two helicopters, a tanker and dozers will work the fire on Thursday. The fire is 40 percent contained and pre-evacuation orders have been lifted.
The Red Table Fire is burning 1.5 miles south of Sylvan Lake State Park in Eagle County.
All day-use areas at and near the park’s lake are closed until further notice. Firefighters are using the lake and boat ramp to stage heavy equipment.
The 10 to 15 acre fire was first reported at 1:30 last Wednesday afternoon.
Stage One Fire Ban
Here in Teller County we have been fortunate not to have seen a major fire since the Waldo Canyon Fire, four years ago.
But the fire danger is still quite high.
Last Thursday, authorities declared a Stage 1 Fire Ban in effect for all of Teller County.
The ban was imposed by the County Commissioners and the Teller sheriff.. According to this action, all open burning permits are suspended immediately.
According to the approved ban, the following activities are allowed under the Stage 1 fire ban.
•Use of use of charcoal grills or burning appliances, gas barbecues, liquid fueled gas stoves or lanterns that are at least 10 feet away from combustible materials
•Campfires that are contained within a permanent fire ring located in developed and designated picnic and/ or campgrounds on public or private lands for public use. Designated fire rings must be least 25 feet away from all structures. Fire rings
must be less than 3 foot in diameter or 3 feet in length and width, and at least 18 inches in depth. A water supply or other approved fire extinguisher must be readily available. All campfires must be attended by a person knowledgeable in the use of fire extinguishing equipment until the fire is completely out.
•Use of chainsaws with approved fire extinguishing / fire extinguisher readily available
•Outdoor welding or cutting with approved fire extinguishing / fire extinguisher readily available
•Smoking in areas clear of all flammable or combustible materials, or designated smoking areas
The following activities are prohibited under the Stage 1 fire ban:
•Burning of materials not contained in outdoor fireplace or permanent fire ring
•Use of any explosives (except for permitted mining operations)
•Use of fireworks of any type (except commercial fireworks within city limits)
•Firing of model rockets
•Burning of irrigation ditches unless completely surrounded by irrigated farmlands where
burning is necessary for crop survival.
Burning of Rubbish is prohibited in Teller County at any time. Rubbish includes paper, garbage, trash, useless waste, rejected or unused matter, organic or inorganic refuse, rejected or waste foods, offal, and tires.
For more detailed information, visit the county’s main website at www.co.teller.co.us