Colorado Springs Fire

My sister sent me the following picture of the Colorado Springs fire. It’s about 10 miles from their house. CA commenter Pete H (also author of the handy WordPress unthreading plug-in and one of the major behind-the-scenes technical helpers to the blog) also lives in Colorado Springs.


29 Comments

  1. Robert
    Posted Jun 27, 2012 at 10:51 PM | Permalink

    Mother Nature doing her thing!

  2. ClimateSkeptik
    Posted Jun 27, 2012 at 11:04 PM | Permalink

    Living in Australia, and having seen some huge and scary bush fires, I can tell you, the one in that photo is huge and scary…

  3. owqeiurowqeiuroqwieuro
    Posted Jun 27, 2012 at 11:05 PM | Permalink

    I found the hi-res file of that photo on another site… there’s a second photo thats quite intense.

    http://jjb.yuku.com/reply/11329773/Re-The-fires-in-Colorado-Springs-Boulder-today

  4. sue
    Posted Jun 27, 2012 at 11:24 PM | Permalink

    Wow! Scary, 10 miles doesn’t seem far enough from that! I hope your sister(and family?) and Pete are well…

  5. RayG
    Posted Jun 27, 2012 at 11:43 PM | Permalink

    I heard a report on NPR’s All Things Considered this afternoon that this fire may not have started as a result of “natural” events. sorry, no links.

  6. Kan
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 12:00 AM | Permalink

    For reference, the stadium visible in the bottom of the photo is Falcon Stadium, where the U.S Air Force football team plays. The stadium is about 4 miles south east of the main campus complex (off the right hand side of the photo).

  7. Duke C.
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 12:22 AM | Permalink

    Hmmm…

    Are not the Almagre Mountain Bristlecones located in the middle of all that smoke?

  8. John M
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 12:29 AM | Permalink

    Nice try. Steve. This is a picture of Pike’s Peak erupting again due to global warming. You can see the pyroclastic flow at the bottom-left of the picture.

  9. Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 2:03 AM | Permalink

    We watched the last Victorian fires in Australia using weather satellite images.
    Do these images match what is happening on the ground?

    http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap/?lat=38.83367157&lon=-104.82099152&zoom=8&pin=Colorado%20Springs%2c%20CO&type=hyb&rad=0&wxsn=0&svr=0&cams=0&sat=1&sat.num=1&sat.spd=25&sat.opa=85&sat.gtt1=109&sat.gtt2=108&sat.type=IR4&riv=0&mm=0&hur=0

  10. Michael
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 2:59 AM | Permalink

    Reminds me of Sydney in January 1994.

  11. JohnB2
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 3:52 AM | Permalink

    As the other Aussies have said, that’s one scary fire.

    All I can say to those in the way of it is be prepared, and if told to run, then RUN!

  12. timetochooseagain
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 6:26 AM | Permalink

    Last I heard the FBI was still investigating the possibility the fire was started by someone. They don’t know yet, I think.

  13. Jimmy Haigh
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 9:18 AM | Permalink

    An impressive scene. Apocalyptic…

  14. JAK
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

    The science is settled. It is due to global warming !

  15. Carl G
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    Steve, you’re to blame for this. Without climategate and your gadfly pestering of climate scientists, copenhagen would have been a success, CO2 levels would have been lower, and this fire wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

  16. PhilH
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 3:30 PM | Permalink

    With regard to this fire, the 6/29/12 Health and Science page of the magazine, “The Week,” has the following: “…the West is headed into a more fire-prone future, wildfire specialist Max Moritz tells the Los Angeles Times. After studying satellite imaging and data from 16 climate models, Moritz and other researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that rising temperatures are likely to change fire patterns not just in the U.S., but across 80 percent of the planet by the end of the century…”

    Several weeks ago, The Week reported, with a straight face, the story about dinosaurs farting causing global warming. They do something like this almost weekly. For a supposedly balanced magazine, their climate science page is about as unbalanced as it gets.

    • Tony Hansen
      Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

      Very interesting indeed if it is across 80% of the planet… and 70% of the planet is covered by ocean :)

  17. Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

    The EPA has just announced it will be setting new fine particulate emission standards on forest fires.

  18. MrPete
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

    Some answers and info…
    * They are actively investigating the origin of the fire. No knowledge yet.
    * Here are some amazing photos, and more recent aerial photos.
    * Ground level in the burned neighborhood. Warning: does not look like the modern world…
    * Zoomable evacuation and fire area map. Generally updated daily.

    6pm MDT tonight: they just allowed a minority of the 32,000+ displaced residents to return home.

    The fire is 10 percent contained, and not at all done with.

    The most experienced wildfire teams were shocked by this one… what made it bad on Tuesday: a huge (dry) thunderhead dropped in place over the fire in a canyon. 55-65 mph winds whipped the fire to an inferno, then exploded burning material in every direction… up to half a mile away in an instant. It blew past every defensive boundary.

    Now they know… and have made progress in spite of more storms.

    • MrPete
      Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 9:07 PM | Permalink

      Oh — I and my family are fine, as long as those smoke clouds don’t smother us! We’ve taken in three evacuees.

      And, the BCP’s are NOT near the fire. They are South and East of Pike’s Peak, which (to now) is not in danger.

      • Mark T
        Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 10:44 PM | Permalink

        That’s cool. The evacuees that were with me got to go home tonight (Rockrimmon area).

        Have yet to see the friend that lost her home since she is in the mtg at UCCS.

        Mark

  19. Mark T
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 9:14 PM | Permalink

    I am fortunate enough to be rather far to the east and not directly impacted. However, some friends were evacuated and another got to watch her own home burn to the ground on live tv (one of the first). Horrific is all I can call it. In spite of the tragedy, alarmists are already capitalizing on some ill-perceived connection to CAGW. They have no shame, nor couth.

    Mark

  20. johanna
    Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 11:40 PM | Permalink

    Oh, my, it brings back memories of the mega-fire I was close to (the 2003 Canberra fire). At 3pm the sky went black – I couldn’t see across the street. It got that close.

    Very best and most compassionate wishes to your sister, and her community. An event like that is very, very scary. It truly reminds us that we are just ants on this Earth when it comes to large scale natural events.

    I also wish that people who believe in a gentle, caring, fragile Gaia would comprehend how an ant/human feels in the face of a firestorm (or volcanic eruption, tsunami, etc).

    Please let us know how your sister and her community are going as this unfolds.

  21. Posted Jun 29, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    I can feel for the people having to feel helpless as their homes are threatened and even burned.

    At the same time we have people who live in river bottom land, and very time their homes get flooded many people question why they built in flood-prone areas – and then get federal funds to rebuild their houses on the same homesites.

    I grew up along the Mississippi across from St Louis. After the 1992 floods, the people of Valmeyer, Illinois decided enough was enough. They’d had horrendous flooding in 1973, and 1992 was just more than they could stand. They abandoned their flood-prone town location and began relocating on higher ground, up on the bluffs a mile to the east. Smart move.

    I also lived a couple of years in Denver. For those who don’t know it, Denver is not up in the Rockies. Like Colorado Springs, it is on the plain. Both cities have expanded up into the foothills (which is what you see burning in the photo). But ALL of that – plains and foothills – is technically desert. And non-technically, too. Whenever I’ve been out there I’ve wondered why people would build in areas that are going to have forest fires, due to the aridity. It is like that all along the Front Range: desert with suburban living intermingled. It is a recipe for a disaster. This year their luck ran out, and they blame it on global warming – and they are wrong. Wildfires will happen there till the next millennium, s they have for thousands of years.

    Not meaning to seem unfeeling, but how are the people building in fore4st fire areas any less sensible than people who build in flood plains?

    The outcome of these fires will be that the people will rebuild on the same sites, funded by insurance companies and the feds. And then everyone will hold their breaths and hope it doesn’t happen again.

    But, of course, it will.

    Steve Garcia

    • MrPete
      Posted Jun 30, 2012 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

      Re: feet2thefire (Jun 29 11:27),
      This is a subject pertinent to Climate. There are both smart and dumb ways to build and live in a place that may be subject to disasters. Those who believe we should change the environment so there’s no need to adapt… generally fare less well than those who learn to adapt well.

      By way of analogy: in California, we learned to build and live in ways that could withstand earthquakes. Bolts on the house foundation, bungees to protect valuables in the kitchen cabinets, etc. I’ve survived large earthquakes without trouble. In other parts of the world, even a small earthquake is a disaster.

      More directly to your point: yes it is stupid for Home Owner Associations (HOA’s) to require fire-prone shake roofs. I suspect we’ll soon see a number of lawsuits because that’s exactly what some HOA’s used to require right here in Colorado Springs.

      On the other hand, for many years it has been shown that proper fire-retardent roofing and siding, fire-resistant landscaping, and general good care, can enable one to build and live in peaceful coexistence with a forest. I suspect that most of the still-standing homes in the fire-ravaged areas will prove to have been properly adapted for that context.

      There will always be exceptions. My roof is class IV fire and hail resistant. But if it were hit by four+ inch grapefruit-size hail, not only could the roof be destroyed, so could the plywood sheathing underneath.

    • Steve Reynolds
      Posted Jun 30, 2012 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

      “The outcome of these fires will be that the people will rebuild on the same sites, funded by insurance companies and the feds.”

      As someone who lives near this fire, I pay very high fire insurance rates, probably rightfully so (even though I have a fire resistant roof). I know I don’t get any subsidy. I agree that people should pay for the risk they incur to live in a (usually beautiful) forest.

  22. MrPete
    Posted Jun 29, 2012 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    Here’s a Google Earth file for the current fire extent. Turns out you can plug this URL into Google Maps as well… and if you have the Google Earth plugin, you can even zoom in 3D…

    http://www.ds.org/files/waldocanyon2012/WaldoCanyon-6-29-2012-0111-plh.kml

  23. SteveSadlov
    Posted Jun 29, 2012 at 9:37 PM | Permalink

    I still struggle to see how purported AGW would lead to these fires. Here in the Western US, a good bit of summer moisture possibility is due to tropical moisture. And more generally, overall moisture supply tends to be associated with El Nino and Positive Phase PDO. Well, we are now in a Negative Phase PDO and had a La Nina into the Spring. So of course drought conditions are wide spread. Cold NE Pacific = drought for all but the NW corner of the Western US. Been that way for eons.

  24. Derek
    Posted Jul 1, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    Like many residents in C Springs, I saw the fire start to build on Sat, Jun 23. There were no signs at all at 10:30 AM, by 12:00 we could see a single plume like a large bonfire, by 1:30 PM it was a massive conflagration that continued to grow all afternoon despite quick response by the county.

    I hope it turns out to be a bottle focusing the sun’s rays but fear the timing and lack of precursors indicate malicious origin. The matter is still under investigation while firefighters continue to battle the monster. The weather hadn’t cooperated which was why you saw the tremendous growth earlier this week; everyone says this will be studied for years to come due to the literally explosive growth caused by high winds.

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