Black Forest and Royal Gorge Fires
Black Fire Update (12:23 PM EDT) - The Black Forest fire has grown already to 15,000 acres and has destroyed 360 homes according the ABC news affliate in Denver with another 79 unverifiable due to downed trees and fire activity.
The Royal Gorge fire which began on June 11 has now consumed 3,100 acres. Twenty structures have been lost, however, the Royal Gorge Bridge is intact. This fire continues to burn west of Canon City in piñon and juniper forests.
"We have made good progress on the fire today without any accidents or injuries thanks in large part to our many partners", said Dennis Page, Incident Commander for the Royal Gorge Fire. Crews from Canon City, Fremont County, and the State of Colorado are working alongside firefighters from the BLM and U.S. Forest Service.
Some challenges firefighters will face today (June 13) include a Red Flag Weather Warning (hot, dry conditions with winds), downed power lines, and active fire moving in stands of beetle killed trees.
The Black Forest fire started Tuesday, June 12, and has already grown to 8500 acres. It is located one mile west of Black Forest, CO in El Paso County. According to the El Paso Sheriff's Office, 92 homes have already been declared a complete loss but others were seen burning even as that count was prepared for release. Since this fire is in what is essentially a residential area, the evacuation area is quite large.
"The fire has now doubled back. Properties that we identified as standing are now engulfed in flames, so the count and the numbers are changing as I speak," said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa during a 5 p.m. fire update yesterday.
Maketa said the fire's official acreage was still 8,500 but is expected to increase to 11,000 or 12,000 acres when better mapping is completed. "The possibilities for this fire to continue to spread are extreme," he said.
Up to 487 firefighters are battling the blaze, including personnel from 28 local fire districts. They are backed by 112 law enforcement officers from eight law enforcement agencies, including Denver. Colorado National Guard and Fort Carson soldiers are also being dispatched to help.
This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite on June 12, 2013. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption: NASA/Goddard, Lynn Jenner
References: ABCNews Denver online inciweb.org geomac.gov