(Update, June 19, 2013 @ 10 pm MDT: The Black Forest Fire — 14,280 acres burned, 509 homes destroyed, 95% contained. Big Meadows Fire, 95% contained. Royal Gorge Fire, 100% contained.)
Several of you have been kind enough to inquire about my welfare, given the size and number of wildfires currently burning in Colorado. Rest assured we in the Denver metro are in no danger other than smoke pollution when the wind is out of the south. It is unsettling, to say the least, when we can actually smell the smoke.
At times the media make it appear that the entire state must be in flames, but you know how the media are. Still, one cannot minimize something like the Black Forest fire, where 15,700 acres have burned, 379 homes have been destroyed, and two people have died. At last report the fire, already the most destructive in state history in terms of property loss, was only 5% contained. Some 38,000 residents have evacuated, with more on standby. By comparison, the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs a year ago destroyed “only” 347 homes.
Cause of the fire has not been determined but the deaths of two people have turned it into a homicide investigation. Several reports have noted there was no lightning in the area at the time the fire started.
The Denver Post has posted an interactive map that shows the burn area, the evacuation area, and if you zoom out you can see the relative size and location of the area.
A second large fire is burning at Royal Gorge. It is 20% contained. Businesses at both ends of the famous Royal Gorge Bridge have burned but so far the famous wood-decked bridge appears relatively undamaged.
The third major fire is Big Meadows, burning in an uninhabited area of thick beetle kill in the western part of Rocky Mountain National Park. It is estimated at 330 acres with 30% containment. Lightning started the fire.
For more photos and videos, see the Denver Post gallery.