Author Topic: Colorado Wildfires/Waldo Canyon  (Read 15632 times)

endurance

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Colorado Wildfires/Waldo Canyon
« on: June 26, 2012, 11:53:14 PM »
While the fire near Fort Collins continues to grow at 87,000 acres, tonight the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs has exploded.  The numbers haven't been updated since early today, but it's clear this fire took dozens of homes today and thousands of additional acres.  I suspect that tomorrow will reveal a fire that tops 20k acres.

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/31226184/detail.html

To complicate matters, we had a dry lightning storm roll through around 4-6pm today that likely started another half-dozen fires spread throughout the foothills west of Denver.  Uggh.  Just on of these near Boulder started a fire around 1:15pm and by 4:30pm it was already 300 acres.  Given that we got just enough rain to make things lay down for a few hours, I suspect by 4pm tomorrow we'll be looking at another level of complexity for the state.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2012, 09:32:15 AM by TwoBluesMama »

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2012, 12:13:28 AM »
I hope that the people that need to evacuate manage too, and that folks will learn to let small fires burn, to make these big ones more manageable.

endurance

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2012, 12:20:21 AM »
In a year like this, you can't let a damn thing burn.  Every lightning strike is becoming a major fire taking many homes.  Looking at the latest, there could be several hundred homes lost tonight in Colorado Springs.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2012, 12:22:53 AM »
Yeeeeouch.  I meant in general, so that under-brush and such are taken care of FOR years like this (less fuel for the fires), but I take your point.

endurance

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 12:35:15 AM »
I'm just frustrated.  I've been on dozens of fires in my life, from Yellowstone in 1988 to the Hayman fire in 2002 and with big fires like this, there's nothing you can do but pray the wind stops, the rain comes and the temperatures fall into the 70s.  Tonight was a combination of the hottest day ever in June in Colorado (105F officially in Denver), single digit relative humidity (4-9%), and 65mph winds kicking up late in the afternoon.  The fire had been advancing north and west all day long, then turned hard to the east, taking out the northwest corner of a large section of Colorado Springs.  I wouldn't be surprised to hear about multiple deaths in the morning, too, as fast as this fire moved.  Those without reverse 911 likely had no warning until it was too late.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2012, 01:21:00 AM »
Ouch.  Yeah, the loss of life really is not encouraging, and I apologize if I made your frustrations worse.

Maybe some constructive knowledge-sharing will help?  What is reverse 911, and how do you get it?

Offline CrunchDog

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2012, 03:19:09 AM »
I remember back in '07 when California was on fire. I was working the fire lines and there really is nothing you can do. I hope the weather starts agreeing with you guys there man. I'll keep you in my prayers.

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2012, 06:54:04 AM »
What is reverse 911, and how do you get it?
Reverse 911 is a system that allows local officials to make a mass outgoing call for an emergency message.  While the hard lines in homes are relatively easy to do it with because they're fixed to an address, the fact that more and more folks have cell phones as their only phones makes the system much more complicated.  In my county you can register up to ten numbers to your address and when they call for an evacuation the call goes to your cell phone.  Unfortunately, most people aren't even aware they can register their phones and the system isn't perfect.

Earlier this year there was a fire south of me where the reverse 911 call went out at the very last minute and they estimate that up to 40% of people in the area didn't get the call.  Three people died in that fire and everyone wanted to blame the county, but all three had called 911 to report the fire in the first place, so they were well aware of the fire and would have been better served listening to their own judgement than waiting for a call to evacuate.  It's tragic.  It's just another example that technology cannot be relied upon for your safety and sometimes you need to exercise your own judgement in spite of what the authorities say.

Yesterday when I saw the Waldo Canyon fire blowing up on the news, I turned on my scanner.  At that point I heard the traffic about new lightning-ignited fires in my area.  With that information I called my wife and she started to hook up the horse trailer in case we needed to evacuate.  While we were fortunate that none spread (yet), I didn't wait around for a reverse 911 call to set things in motion.

Offline Bradbn4

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2012, 07:58:16 AM »
I could do without the front seat view of this going on.  I have always been a bit sensitive to smoke and now it seems like I have been camping for the last few days.

From the evacuation map it looks like folks expecting FedEx packages might have a larger than normal wait.  With 32K of folks being evacuated - I would expect all the local hotels to be booked.  A neighbor up the street seem to be sheltering a family that was evacuated. 

A friend of mine is waiting to see if he is part of the next group to have bail out due to the fire.


endurance

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2012, 10:08:10 AM »
Hey Brad, thanks for checking in.  I wasn't sure what part of town you lived in. 

This thing has turned into another monster and while I predict they'll be able to get the upper hand on the eastern front soon, the northern and western ends are likely to grow for weeks now that it's advanced so far up the Rampart.  Only significant rain is going to change thing for this fire.

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20949291

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2012, 11:32:14 AM »

From the evacuation map it looks like folks expecting FedEx packages might have a larger than normal wait.  With 32K of folks being evacuated - I would expect all the local hotels to be booked.  A neighbor up the street seem to be sheltering a family that was evacuated. 

Dangit, I just got the shipment notification for a Shelfreliance can rotation system that I ordered.  Oh well, it will get here eventually.

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2012, 11:36:36 AM »
Stay safe, Folks!

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2012, 12:35:33 PM »
Huh.  Is this "reverse 911" system near universal or is a Colorado thing?  If it's fairly universal, I think I'll want to look into it.  It's not like the government can't track where my phone sits most of the time, or raid records on address associations anyway.  I may as well get a version of the association that does me some good.

endurance

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2012, 01:33:49 PM »
Huh.  Is this "reverse 911" system near universal or is a Colorado thing?  If it's fairly universal, I think I'll want to look into it.  It's not like the government can't track where my phone sits most of the time, or raid records on address associations anyway.  I may as well get a version of the association that does me some good.
It's becoming more and more popular with many counties and they're even using it for localized incidents, like chemical spills and wanted fugitives in some areas.  Usually you just need to go to your county emergency services webpage and they'll be links to sign up.  I believe most counties are using a GIS-based system so they can simply draw a polygon on a map and it calls up all the numbers registered in that area. 

There's numerous contractors doing these programs across the country and it's my understanding that some are much more flawed than others.  I know that the criticism of our fires earlier this year have led my county to explore different contractors at the next renewal.  That said, if you don't register, you have no room to gripe if it doesn't work.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2012, 01:50:40 PM »
Thanks Endurance.  I'll look into it when I get back home.  Maybe I can find a similar service for some of my relatives, and give them info they'll appreciate.  My mother and grandmother are concerned over weather events, etc, so they might sign up.

endurance

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2012, 02:15:31 PM »
Thanks Endurance.  I'll look into it when I get back home.  Maybe I can find a similar service for some of my relatives, and give them info they'll appreciate.  My mother and grandmother are concerned over weather events, etc, so they might sign up.
There's also text alerts and e-mail alerts available from companies like emergencyemail.org  They're great for weather alerts, sometimes a little too good (lots of silly texts, like warnings about high wind advisories, etc.).

Regarding the fire, this latest map update is pretty terrifying.  Switch to satellite view and zoom in along the eastern edge and you can see how deep into the neighborhoods the fire reached.  Again, confirmation that probably well over a hundred homes were lost last night.   Map link

I just got a report that we're getting more dry lighting around my place right now.  Please let it rain!

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2012, 03:57:43 PM »
It's trying to rain here in Arvada at this moment - have been praying for it but also having severe lightning.  Just walked out with my DH as he was leaving for work opened the metal gates for him and sha-zam!  Somebody's watching over me anyway. 

I've lived here for all but a few years of my life and I've never seen anything like this.  I remember the 1980's being hot like this but not this dry.  So scary.  I feel so bad for all those who've lost their homes.  What a horrible thing to have happen to you.  A good lesson in being prepared to flee and not having all your eggs (preps) in one basket. 


Offline raphterman

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2012, 04:38:31 PM »
It was kind of funny yesterday when my wife asked me if we should get bags together in case we get the pre-evac/evac order.  I have the kids' and my stuff all ready to go along with the data backups but I've told her in the past that she needs to get some of her clothes wrapped up.  Luckily we're on the eastern side of the city but you should have seen her BOB go from zero to hero pretty quick.  Obviously the "just-in-time" preparations aren't the best but I think she's now a believer from here on out!  My thanks to this show and the TSP community. 

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2012, 04:55:50 PM »
It was kind of funny yesterday when my wife asked me if we should get bags together in case we get the pre-evac/evac order.  I have the kids' and my stuff all ready to go along with the data backups but I've told her in the past that she needs to get some of her clothes wrapped up.  Luckily we're on the eastern side of the city but you should have seen her BOB go from zero to hero pretty quick.  Obviously the "just-in-time" preparations aren't the best but I think she's now a believer from here on out!  My thanks to this show and the TSP community.

Hope all goes well for you.  Keep us posted if you can.  Blessings and prayers sent your way, TBM

Offline Herew

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2012, 04:59:12 PM »
Even though I live on the southeast side of the Springs, we have our BoBs already loaded in the cars and are ready to go at a moments notice. My wife and son are leaving for Kansas (to stay with her parents) on Friday or Saturday.

The smoke was thick like fog this morning and hasn't really gotten better. It tried to rain earlier this afternoon, but as far as I know, it did no good.

I hope the rest of you in the area are well.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2012, 04:59:43 PM »
wow, Colorado, you are on fire!  I was looking at that map and you have a lot of red.

I was looking at some of your fires, and our one fire, and wonder - do the highways make a natural firebreak?  it seems to me, from these maps, that the fires are not crossing major highways.

I guess I ask because I am right on the edge of a large highway, not an interstate.  and all of our wind comes from that direction.  I guess I am hoping that means I am safe :D

meanwhile, I have banned fire from our fire pit for the summer.  much to the son's dismay.  to bad for him :)

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2012, 05:17:12 PM »
The highways are ok firebreaks (especially interstates) but they are not the be all end all.  Embers can apparently drift quite a ways and start secondary fires that spread and join up with the original fire.  So a natural firebreak has to be worked by fire crews that widen the breaks and extinguish secondaries that start on the non burning side.  I am getting a crash course in all this.

There has been a small amount of rain over here on the east side, the problem is it has been accompanied by a lot of wind, which is not what is desirable apparently.  So I am told that while rain is good you need a fair amount of it to overcome the undesirable effects of high winds.  Additionally, if it comes from thunderstorms, the lightning can start secondaries.

We are on the far eastern side of Colorado Springs (ie a pretty good distance away with the bulk of the city between us and the fire) and we can still smell the smoke inside the house with the AC on.  The family truckster is ready to go if need be.  I also signed up for the Reverse 911 last night.  Funny how being close to a disaster refocuses you and gets you thinking. 

Offline fndrbndr

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2012, 06:52:56 PM »
I could do without the front seat view of this going on.

Same here, bro...we're just north of the mess in the Monument area. Pre-evac called for us today.

It's kind of like a mini-SHTF for all of us here. Gas station lines are getting a bit long and I hear rumors of a few grocery shelves being stripped (especially in Woodland Park). Most everyone is really rallying together to provide help and support, but some people have "that look" in their eyes (borderline zombie panic).
« Last Edit: June 27, 2012, 06:58:08 PM by fndrbndr »

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #23 on: June 27, 2012, 07:49:44 PM »
Herew, Chemsoldier, and fndrbndr - praying that all goes well for you all too.  Do keep us posted.

I am a little concerned about my daughter who lives about 50 miles from the Waldo Canyon Fire.  She has asthma and is expecting a baby any day and the smoke at her house is awful.  I would love for her to come to my house but the hospital she is to deliver at is there and she wants to stay. (Even though she's grown and married this Mama still worries a little).

Funny how being close to a disaster refocuses you and gets you thinking. 
^This! +1

Offline eronious

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Waldo Canyon Fire
« Reply #24 on: June 27, 2012, 10:42:35 PM »
Well shoot.  I wish I knew whether or not I have a house any more.  I live in the Mountain Shadows area of Colorado Springs that they keep talking about.  Thanks to TSP, I think I was more than prepared to bug out, but until you actually have to do it, you never know how it's going to affect you. 

I have alternatly had moments of zen and wild sobbing fits, but I think I'm ok now.  My husband (who is currently contracting in Afghanistan) as a part of our prep planning recently went in and reorganized all our important files, tossing papers that we no longer needed and consolidating everything that we would have to grab in case of emergency in one drawer.  I plopped those folders in a box along with everything else I had pre-planned for a bug out and was surprised when I looked at the clock and it had only taken about 15 minutes.  Whoa!  That's a hell of a return on investment for a little pre-planning!  I did this (again as a prep) days before we were actually evacuated, then I had the luxury of a few days of wandering through my house and plucking sentimental items and stuff I just wanted, but I was secure in the knowledge that at any given moment, the important stuff was already ready to go.

When we got the evacuation orders, it came fast and furious.  I had signed up for reverse 911 calls and texts, which worked exactly as promised.  If you don't know what that is, google it NOW and get signed up for it.  They'll tell you if there's an amber alert in your area, an evacuation notice or a killer or gunman on the loose in your neighborhood.  Good stuff to know!  Anyway, I got the call and text and then the power went out 5 minutes later.  I had staged the last of my clothes and toiletries to go in the last few minutes (right before the pet crate) because I didn't really want to re-iron all that stuff if I didn't have to and hey, a girl's gotta have her beauty products up until she gets in the car, right?  So in that 5 minutes, I was loading the last suitcase in the car and was in a windowless, closed garage when the power went out. 

It was then that I realized i had no idea how to open an electric garage door manually.  Wow.  What a dork!  Anyway, when I found my way out of the very dark smokey garage, my awesome neighbor laughed at me, ran to my house and showed me how the release/lock works and then wished me luck and we were off to my parent's house in Parker about an hour away.  Again, more tears and more zen on the way, but I was safe, I performed my final bug-out inside of 10 minutes and now I'm just kind of proud of myself.  Also I'm exhausted.  They don't tell you how exhausting this is.

Anyway, if anyone knows of anyone that is in a position to know whether I still have a house, I'd love to get an inside scoop, but other than that, I think I'm going to be ok.  Because I was prepared.

Thanks Jack and TSP! 

<3 Heather

Offline Bradbn4

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #25 on: June 27, 2012, 10:44:11 PM »
Nice to be on the east side - I figure about 50% of colorado springs would have to go before I get taken out. 

Summary:

an ex coworker - had the houses on 3 sides burn down - but his escaped without too much damage.
a co-worker was forced to evacuate
2 co-workers can't get to work without 150 mile commute
1 friend is on the far south edge of the fire and has the car packed encase of a bug out order
1 friend is evacuated from Woodland park down to Colorado Springs - however; his business is semi-close to another area under close watch

Way too much smoke - way too hot with no real rain expected - these are the shows I only like to watch on crappy TV - not in real life HD.





Offline Pathfinder

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Re: Waldo Canyon Fire
« Reply #26 on: June 28, 2012, 05:29:03 AM »
Can't help with the house, sorry, I'm about a 1000 miles away. My granddaughter and her mom and grandmother are all up northeast, east of the Ft. Collins fire. No danger at the moment, but smoke everywhere.

But kudos on the prep work and the quick ability to respond. That was excellent. In your sobbing moments, try to remember it's just stuff, you have the important things - and your life, and insurance will get the house rebuilt. YOU did awesome!!!!

Prayers aloft for you and everyone in CO these days.

endurance

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Re: Colorado Wildfires
« Reply #27 on: June 28, 2012, 08:16:19 AM »
The highways are ok firebreaks (especially interstates) but they are not the be all end all.  Embers can apparently drift quite a ways and start secondary fires that spread and join up with the original fire.  So a natural firebreak has to be worked by fire crews that widen the breaks and extinguish secondaries that start on the non burning side.  I am getting a crash course in all this.
A prime example of this is the fire map with fire on the north side of Rampart Reservoir.  The fire jumped across a lake and started on the far side.  That's a lot wider than an interstate.

Thankfully all three major fires on the front range got at least some rain on them last night.  Certainly not enough to put them out, but perhaps enough to decrease fire behavior to the point where they can do direct attack and put in some effective line. 

endurance

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Re: Waldo Canyon Fire
« Reply #28 on: June 28, 2012, 08:59:25 AM »
Hey Eronious, sorry I missed this post yesterday.  There's a parallel thread in the breaking events forum here. (topics merged by TBM) Really the only way to know if your home was impacted or not is to do your best zooming in on the google maps image of the fire while in satellite view.  If you PM your street name I can help with this.  Otherwise, here's the link to the latest update: https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=embed&hl=en&geocode=&q=http:%2F%2Frmgsc.cr.usgs.gov%2Foutgoing%2FGeoMAC%2FActiveFirePerimeters.kml&aq=&sll=39.737567,-104.984718&sspn=0.307305,0.441513&ie=UTF8&t=p&ll=38.901454,-104.930077&spn=0.106873,0.20565&z=12

From what I've seen from those images, Mountain Shadows has not been directly impacted.

You're in our thoughts.  Glad you made it out safe.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2012, 09:37:32 AM by TwoBluesMama »

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: Colorado Wildfires/Waldo Canyon
« Reply #29 on: June 28, 2012, 09:36:31 AM »
eronious - Sorry to hear what is happening with you.  I can imagine that it's very difficult not to know.  I'm adding you to my prayers in hopes that all goes well for you.  Keep us posted when you can.  Blessings, TBM