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Fire, fire, and more fire

forest fire on steep slope

This is the kind of terrain firefighters must deal with.

We have another fire in Colorado. The Springer Fire near Lake George, west of Colorado Springs, had burned 2-4 acres at 1 pm yesterday. Today it has grown to 1,000 acres with 0% containment. It’s at 8,600 feet, where the temperature today hovered near 90° — unusually hot for that elevation. Imagine fighting a forest fire in temperatures like that.

So far, no homes have been lost and evacuations are ongoing. Unlike the High Park Fire, which was sparked by lightning, this fire reportedly was started by someone target shooting with either explosive ammunition or explosive targets. How stupid is that? Probably some ignorant tourist. Officials are still investigating.

The governor has issued a statewide burn ban, including the use of fireworks. Lots of luck with that, Gov. You didn’t ban the sale of fireworks. Bet my neighbors will be at it again this year. They’ve proven quite proficient at ignoring the longtime ban on fireworks in the city.

For the latest maps, details, and updates on the Springer Fire and others, see

Not a grass fire

This shows the size of the flames firefighters are encountering. Note the firefighter on the right.

High Park Fire, burning trees

Remember, the trees are 50 feet tall.

High Park Fire. Photo: Karl Gehring, The Denver Post

Fire down below (not the movie) in rugged terrain. Photo: Karl Gehring, The Denver Post (Click to enlarge)

The High Park Fire began when lightning struck this tree.

The High Park Fire began when lightning struck this tree. (Photo courtesy Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office)



  1. What happened to the idea that forest fires are part of nature, and nature takes care of its’ own? Just protect the homes (that were built where they shouldn’t have been) and let the rest go. If you really care, build sprinklers for homes in endangered areas…
    This may not work… but I haven’t even heard of it being tried….
    The first Q is answered, of course, that *that* was before the areas were built up… Hmm-mm. Maybe that’s the problem?

    • You make good points, Doug. Libertarians would be aghast but building fireproof houses would probably be a practical thing to implement with some kind of state building code. I think I read that building hurricane-proof houses adds something like 10% or 20% to the cost. Of course, many people prefer to take the risk at the lower cost because insurance covers it and they just rebuild in the same place and with the same vulnerability.

    • People who live in the mountains know the risks of building there. Fire insurance is extremely expensive, if available at all. They know they should clear a certain amount of land around their homes, creating a defensible zone. Some do put in sprinklers. Some include a lot of concrete in their construction, fire resistant roofs, etc. But 50-100 foot flames can overrun almost anything.

      Forest fires are allowed to burn in more remote areas, but when they threaten populated areas, they have to be fought,

      As for why people build there — just visit the mountains.

      • Just a comment about Jim’s comment.
        We live in a coastal plain which does have hurricanes. The entire neighborhood of houses is built to exceed Florida’s hurricane standards. (which means maybe a small, but stronger house due to building costs) Our house had no damage after the last storm (not in a low area) Many states have coastal building codes.
        Sometimes you get a break on insurance costs depending on house construction.
        But one thing for sure, whether hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or fire, insurance never covers the cost of a home being destroyed. (not to mention the cost of your time and health from trying to deal with the insurance company) You don’t want to depend on insurance for replacement.
        People build by water or mountains for quality of life.
        It’s a risk, but there are also risks in the city. A car can (and does at least once a week here) run into a home tearing out the side of a house. Or a vandals break in and destroy it for fun( also happens here). And there’s the holiday fireworks ( lobbies are pretty strong at state level – as we found out during last year’s drought)
        Pay your money and take your choice. WIn some, lose some.
        If it’s a big enough storm or fire, nothing will protect your house.

  2. Those images scare the pants off me PT. Living amidst great mountain vistas has always been a dream of mine but, from a practical perspective, I just can’t see trying it without substantially greater resources than I’ve ever had. I realize that my idea of “practical security” would probably seem very “impractical” to most people, but I’ll bet that more than a few with burned out homes have revised their previous positions on the matter.

    But hey, what do I know? We’re dealing with a minor heat wave here in Ohio and I don’t even have a car to save myself the walk to the grocery store.

    • It takes a lot of money and/or a “frontiersman” sort of personality to live in the mountains. I’ve concluded (but still not completely accepted) that I don’t have enough of either anymore, if I ever did. But I’ve been up there enough to understand the attraction. After all, I moved 700 miles to get this close. If circumstances had been different, I might easily have been one of those people who got burned out. I’ve a hunch most of those folks don’t regret a minute of the time they spent living there and will rebuild in the same spot if they can afford to.

  3. BTW, have you been having problems with WordPress, Firefox, or Adobe Flash? My Firefox Flash plugin kept crashing and I had to downgrade to the previous version. That stopped the plugin from crashing, but I’m still having weird “screen flicker” events and I’ve had several occasions today where there was no “Submit” button available when I wanted to respond to a comment. And it’s strange that the most recent updates from Adobe, Mozilla, and Microsoft all came around the same time…

    • Haven’t had any problems lately, but it seems like I get an inordinate number up Adobe updates. I just got a new Firefox update a few minutes ago. No problems so far. But I work mostly on a MacBook. I have Windows on my old box in the other room, but it’s little more than storage these days.

        • The update might have been on my other computer, which I don’t use much. v13.0.1 is what I’m using. I was having a problem a couple of weeks ago trying to watch videos on some of the TV stations’ websites, but I wasn’t sure if it was my problem or theirs. No problems since then.

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