The smell of smoke hangs heavy in the evening air tonight as yet another forest wild fire rages in the mountains west of us, about 25 miles west of Ft. Collins. It was first reported early this morning and by late afternoon had burned between 2 and 3 thousand acres. This is the 3rd wild fire in month in that general vicinity. The mountain forests are tinder boxes, ready to burst into flame at the least spark. The first fire was man caused. A poor camper’s little camp stove fueled by alcohol tipped over, starting near by grasses on fire. The camper had no chance of stomping out the fire, which burned for over a week. The second fire, just barely extinguished, was started by lightening. This fire, the High Peak Fire, has now burned 5,000 acres. These mountainsides are homes to many families and this fire is personal because we have friends who make the hills home. My daughter’s in-laws have a beautiful home and they have evacuated, leaving behind their life, their home. They spent the long afternoon cutting timber in hopes of having enough of a fire line to keep the house safe. They will probably know by morning if their efforts were effective.
Ninety percent of the state has been declared in a drought, with the weatherman just saying that it would take a week of rain to dampen the forests enough to cancel the fire danger. In addition to extremely dry conditions, Colorado forests have been heavily damaged with the mountain pine beetle, a vermin with a huge appetite for lodge pole pine, which makes up most of the forest. So with the combination of beetle kill trees and dry conditions, wild fires are an everpresent danger. From here, we see the smoke. This evening’s photos tell the story.
The smoke drifts to the north then heads east as far as Nebraska, so far.