Posted on May 5, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Firefighter start containment, investigate cause
Firefighters work Monday, May 5 to control a small wildfire burning in northern Summit County. Photo courtesy Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue.
SILVERTHORNE – Summit County firefighters worked quickly into Monday evening to quash a small wildfire on a private ranch in the Lower Blue Valley.No people or structures were threatened by the five-acre blaze, which was burning in shrubs and dead-standing aspens on a hillside on the Mount Powell Ranch about 10 miles north of Silverthorne along Colorado 9.
More than 30 firefighters and other personnel responded from as far as Copper Mountain, along with law enforcement and state transportation workers, according to Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue spokesman Steve Lipsher. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Lipsher said.
The fire in the still-damp northern mountains came as much of southern Colorado was under a red flag fire danger warning. The south-central plains are also facing critical fire danger, with persistent drought and the spring windy season at hand.
“Even though it’s early in the season, we take an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said Summit County Sheriff John Minor. “We aren’t taking any chances.”
The fire was reported about 4:15 p.m., and by 7 p.m. firefighters had it about 20 percent contained and were optimistic going into nightfall that they would keep it at its current size. Light winds allowed firefighters to work on containment, but they faced some hazards such as potential falling trees and occasional torching of trees amid the single-digit relative humidity.
Although early in the season, the blaze at about 8,100 feet was not unprecedented for the area at this time of year.
“Fire season is here,” said Lake Dillon Fire Chief Dave Parmley. “We all need to begin that mindset of preparation and awareness, and don’t let the heavy snow of this past winter mislead you into thinking it’s going to be an uneventful summer when it comes to wildfire.”
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Colorado, Summit County Colorado, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 1, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Firefighters teamed up in March 2012 to quell an early season wildfire near Keystone Resort, in Summit County, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.
Funding shortfall has ripple effect in other public lands programs
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — With a dangerous fire season forecast for parts of the country, especially the drought-stricken far West and Southern Plains, federal firefighting agencies will likely once again face a huge budget shortfall. That could require the Forest Service to divert funds from other programs, according to top administration officials who presented the report to Congress.
The report projects firefighting costs of about $1.8 billion, with only $1.4 billion budgeted. The Obama administration is advocating for a budget that would close the gap by giving firefighting agencies the ability to use emergency funds separate from their discretionary budgets to fight fires.
Similar legislation is pending in Congress, where the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act is cosponsored by Sen.Michal Bennet (D-CO) and Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, public lands, US Forest Service, wildfires | Tagged: climate change, federal budget, U.S. Forest Service, Wildfires | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 19, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Global warming seen as key factor in trend
Study documents significant trend in size and frequency of western wildfires.
Western wildfires: How much bigger will they get?
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The size and frequency of western wildfires have been increasing at a startling rate the past few decades, researchers said this week after scrutinizing satellite data to measure burned areas.
The number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres increased by a rate of seven fires a year from 1984 to 2011 and the total areas burned grew by about 90,000 acres per year — an area the size of Las Vegas, according to the new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal published by the American Geophysical Union.
“We looked at the probability that increases of this magnitude could be random, and in each case it was less than one percent,” said Philip Dennison, an associate professor of geography at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and lead author of the paper. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, extreme weather, forest fires, global warming | Tagged: climate, Environment, global warming, Wildfires | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A NASA photo taken from the International Space Station shows sunlight glinting off the Amazon River.
Drought the main driver of destructive fires
By Staff Report
FRISCO — Longer droughts, land-use changes and wildfires may be pushing parts of the Amazon rainforest toward an ecological tipping point, a team of scientists said after analyzing the effects of fire in a series of study plots.
The changes may abruptly increase tree mortality and change vegetation over large areas, the researchers said, pointing out that current Amazon forest models don’t include the impacts of wildfires. As a result, projections of future forest health tend to underestimate the amount of tree death and overestimate overall forest health, said Dr. Michael Coe, of the Woods Hole Research Center. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Amazon Rainforest, drought, Environment, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 20, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
You can add titanium alloy golf clubs to the list of things that can start wildfires.
Lab study shows titanium alloy clubs can generate super-hot sparks
FRISCO — As if there wasn’t already enough to worry about, golfers in the southwestern United States and other arid regions now have to keep in mind that their chip shot out of the rough could spark a wildfire.
High-tech titanium alloy clubs are the culprit, according scientists with the University of California, Irvine. When a club coated with the lightweight metal is swung and strikes a rock, it creates sparks that can heat to more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit for long enough to ignite dry foliage, according to the findings published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Fire and Materials. Continue reading
Filed under: forest fires | Tagged: Environment, golf, golf courses, titanium alloy, Wildfires | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 10, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Heavy machinery is on the move in the quest to restore Colorado’s forests.
Applications due March 13
FRISCO — Neighborhoods looking to reduce wildfire threats can now apply for grants under a state program that will disburse a total of $5.2 million for projects that reduce the risk for damage to property, infrastructure, and water supplies, and those that limit the likelihood of wildfires spreading into populated areas.
The grant program, administered by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, is accepting applications through March 13. The grants will be awarded in early May. Information and applications are online at the DNR website. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: Colorado, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, forests, wildfire mitigation, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 15, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Local firefighters team up in March 2012 to quell an early season wildfire along Montezuma Road, near Keystone Resort, in Summit County, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.
Updated satellite instruments help refine predictions
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — As the West Fork Fire Complex roared through the spruce and fir forests of the Colorado San Juans last summer, on its way to becoming the state’s second-largest wildfire on record, communities in the region were on edge for days. Slight shifts in wind pushed the fire in new directions every other day, forcing some residents to leave their homes for weeks.
Like many large fires, the West Fork Complex even created its own weather, making it even harder for experts to project its path. But new research by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Maryland may help firefighters and resource managers get a better handle on predicting fire behavior. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, forests, wildfires | Tagged: NCAR, wildfire behavior, wildfire modeling, Wildfires | Leave a comment »