Colorado: Aerial ignitions, heavy ground equipment and burnouts used to control western flank of High Park Fire

Steep terrain, difficult access and beetle-kill creating challenges

The June 15 High Park Fire map posted by Larimer County.
A feller-buncher working in the forest. PHOTO COURTESY USFS.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Firefighters at the western edge of the High Park Fire will use aerial ignitions, burn-out operations and heavy equipment to remove trees from the fire’s path in their efforts to quell the fire,  protect structures and ensure firefighter safety.

The fire, sparked by lightning more than a week ago, grew by another 2,000 acres Friday, mostly on the western flank where steep terrain, where limited access, and  dense stands of beetle-killed trees are of concern to fire officials, according to the latest update.The fire is reported as 20 percent contained, with more than 1,500 firefighters on-scene.

A feller-buncher working on a logging project at the Frisco Peninsula, Summit County, Colorado. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

The evolving plan to contain the fire in that area includes burn-outs to bring the fire under control as it approaches fire lines along roads and the use of specialized equipment to create defensible space near homes. Logging equipment called feller-bunchers has been ordered to the fire to enable specialized crews to quickly cut and gather trees to remove fuel from the fire line at targeted points.

Firefighters have built a lot of line around a spot fire that is roughly estimated at 200 acres on the north side of Poudre Canyon near Steven’s Gulch. The fire is located in steep terrain and timber and difficult to access by ground. Crews in the area are focusing on structure protection, with extra hand crews and engines shifted to the area to protect the Glacier view area.

To date, 112 homeowners from the Stratton Park, Pine Acres, Soldier Canyon, Missile Silo Road, Cloudy Pass, Picnic Rock, Spring Valley, Old Flowers, Whale Rock, Paradise Park, Tip Top, Rist Creek, Poudre Fire Authority District along the Front Range and Poudre Canyon from Stove Prairie to the mouth of Poudre Canyon have been notified that their homes have been destroyed. The assessment is still underway and this number will continue to grow.

Officials expect to release more detailed information about property damage at Saturday’s (June 16) 3 p.m. citizens, covering the following areas: Davis Ranch, Laurence Creek/Redstone, Buckhorn (CR44H), Stove Prairie Road, and Rist Canyon. Residents of these neighborhoods will be addressed separately after a general briefing.

Updated nformation is also available by telephone at 970-619-4086 after 3 p.m.

High Park fire map June 15.
A June 15 map of the High Park Fire contributed by Mark Newby and Black Ice Geospatial. Click on the image to visit the Black Ice homepage.

Up-to-date maps and daily progression maps are online at

Larimer County is opening a one-stop disaster recovery center, where victims of the fire will be able to receive services and get information on County, State, and CSU services. The center opens Friday (June 15) at 7 a.m. 7:00 a.m. at Johnson Hall on the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins.

More updated information is online at the Larimer County Emergency Services blog. Real-time updates stream at Twitter from @LarimerSheriff and at the #HighParkFire hashtag.


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