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Fire on Backside of Flatirons
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By TheBirdman
From Eldorado Springs, Colorado
Jun 27, 2012

Paul Hunnicutt wrote:
we don't have room to let the natural fire cycle occur anymore.


Too bad. Fire has been occurring in forests for as long as there have been forests and will continue to occur long after humans are gone. Hence why certain pine cones only open in temperatures above a certain level and why many western conifers have developed fire resistant bark. The problem is the urban/wilderness interface. People simply live too close to wilderness areas. Proper planning and zoning has been effective in rectifying this as evidenced by case studies in Montana.

In response to your comment that we "thin" forests and that we can do X, Y, Z in terms of military force, it's incredibly anthropocentric. Humans do not have the answers to everything and "controlled burns" are one of the greatest examples of human hubris. How many "controlled burns" turn into forest fires? The fact is the safest ecological solution is to let nature do it's thing and properly plan to stay out of it's way. Admittedly, things like super volcanoes, earthquakes, etc. are much more difficult to plan for but it's something that you need to consider. If you live in the wilderness in the West, fires are a concern. If you live in CA, plan for an earthquake. If you live near Yellowstone, have a volcano plan if you aren't instantly vaporized. The fact is thinking we can control natural disaster is plain arrogant and wrong. Trying to figure out how to exist while mitigating the damage and still letting nature do what it has to do is the best solution.

Full disclosure: I'm an environmental attorney whose had this debate with USFS too many times. They think they can control something that is uncontrollable when the better solution is to just mitigate the danger by requiring defensible space and creating a thorough master plan that prohibits any structures too close to the urban/wilderness interface.


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By Paul Hunnicutt
From Boulder, CO
Jun 27, 2012
Half Dome

agree. however, we have cut down the forests and they haven't yet returned to a "mature" state...but are rather dense stands of matchboxes. Add to that people just don't want their homes, hiking, and recreational areas destroyed. Letting nature do here thing is fine, but we might just have to wait decades or hundreds of years to have our forests back - let alone actually live in or near the mountains. can't say there is a great answer, but maybe we could extinguish them quicker with better equipment and decrease the fuel available. for the record though I'm an architect and know little about forests or fires so I'm talking out of my a**

same with earthquakes - we know how to design for probably 99% of them now. we can build things right or end up with Haiti.

In the end mother nature is bigger than all of us...just hard to accept it sometimes. maybe we can just hope to control her a bit more.

it is pouring in Boulder now...never been so glad to get drenched on the way home. looks short lived though.


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By wendy weiss
Jun 27, 2012

Birdman, I agree with you. But the forests are in a horrible state and the houses are already there. No way the government isn't going to try to protect them. It would be great to limit future development. Also to have more and newer planes to deal with the situation, especially since suppressing fires to protect homes in the urban-forest interface has amped up the danger for neighboring cities.

No comfort in this rainstorm, Paul. There's too much lightning.


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Jun 27, 2012
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

I'm surprised no was has developed a foam "bomb" much like the high expansion foam used in structural firefighting. Probably isn't green but... what's worse?


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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Jun 27, 2012
My navigator keeps me from getting lost

TheBirdman wrote:
...How many "controlled burns" turn into forest fires?...


Good question. I assume that, since you're telling us the measures we've put in place don't work, you have some reason to think that. So, tell us, how many controlled burns turn into forest fires?

And, what percentage of controlled burns does that represent?


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By s.price
From PS,CO
Jun 27, 2012
 Morning Dew ,self portrait

Crag Dweller wrote:
Good question. I assume that, since you're telling us the measures we've put in place don't work, you have some reason to think that. So, tell us, how many controlled burns turn into forest fires? And, what percentage of controlled burns does that represent?

One for sure is the Little Sand Fire burning very close to my beloved Piedra Canyon.

Don't get me wrong, I praise the hard working ladies and gents working this fire. They have worked their asses off and so far have held the line between the few residences in peril and the canyon.

When I first posted on MP about this fire I did question their choice and still do. They had the opportunity to put it out. So far we have been lucky and it is burning up an area that needed it.

As we all know that can change in a heartbeat.


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By TheBirdman
From Eldorado Springs, Colorado
Jun 27, 2012

Crag Dweller wrote:
Good question. I assume that, since you're telling us the measures we've put in place don't work, you have some reason to think that. So, tell us, how many controlled burns turn into forest fires? And, what percentage of controlled burns does that represent?


First and foremost, my criticism is with the overall approach to controlling burns. Just like my position on war, I don't criticize individual soldiers (or firefighters in this case). I think they are selfless, brave, and much more benevolent than a lowly attorney like myself. True heroes unlike LeBron James or Bear Grylls.

All that being said, I still strongly disagree with USFS's approach to controlling burns. While I don't have any authoritative reports from the USFS (probably because it's against their interest to release these statistics, the same reason police departments are reluctant to disclose how many arrests actually result in convictions) a simple google search will show plenty of evidence. Literally, the first hit on a google search for "controlled burns out of control" is: www.thedenverchannel.com/news/30786624/detail.html

Needless to say, it happens all too often. Even once is too often and it has happened a lot more than that. I just think it is an extremely arrogant and ignorant position to take that you can control something uncontrollable. I liken it to people who claim that they can control a tiger or a gorilla and keep it as a pet. It's bound to blow up in your face. The fact is thinning forests in a controlled burn actually perpetuates the problem and throws off the ecological balance of a forest by removing everything between saplings and old growth.

For a literary reference, it's an example of hubris or excessive pride whereby humans think they can do something better than nature itself can. Admittedly, my suggestion is not feasible in some areas. I'm not suggesting we tear down houses that are already built close to the urban/wilderness interface but just the use of more foresight. As I said in my earlier post, if you build a house in CA, you better do everything you can to mitigate the risk of earthquakes. Same thing applies in any Western state that has a fire risk.

Finally, I'll point out, you don't see the Department of the Interior dropping bunker busters between tectonic plates as a preventative "controlled earthquake." That sounds insane. Even though a controlled burn is not exactly the same because even I'll admit the risk of a controlled burn is less than dropping a bomb into the subsurface, the logic seems just as ridiculous.

To reiterate, many thanks and praise to the firefighters involved and condolences to anyone injured or harmed by the fire. That being said, I still believe we need to reexamine our strategy and approach to dealing with wildfire.


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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Jun 27, 2012
My navigator keeps me from getting lost

TheBirdman wrote:
...Literally, the first hit on a google search for "controlled burns out of control" is: www.thedenverchannel.com/news/30786624/detail.html


I must admit that I was surprised to see how many controlled burns became uncontrolled. I didn't realize it happened that frequently.


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By TheBirdman
From Eldorado Springs, Colorado
Jun 28, 2012

JLP wrote:
Feel free to add a few more details on that one for anywhere in CO with a few pine trees around. Homes are probably nearby and more will be built. You have no premise. My homeowner's insurance went up 30% last year to help pay for burned out homes. I can't make sense of how you differentiate an out of control control-burn vs a regular wildfire, either. They kind of seem like the same thing to me.


I live in CO. Eldorado Springs to be exact. I saw firsthand yesterday how it goes. Regardless, after numerous severe fires in Missoula, Montana regulations were enacted to create more defensible space and more distance between wilderness and development. Obviously, many homes will be grandfathered in as you can't go back in time and unbuild what's already been built. The result in and around Missoula has been a steady decrease in the amount of structures destroyed in fires. The structures that are already there we can't do anything about, but we can avoid exacerbating the problem by continuing to allow further development in such an obvious danger zoner.

In regards to an out of control controlled burn vs. a regular wildfire, this seems pretty obvious. A controlled burn is started by humans under the belief that the area they will burn needs to be burned and can be contained. It gets out of control once it is no longer contained. A regular wildfire can be caused like the one in Boulder yesterday; lightning striking in a highly fuel loaded area after many days of high heat, low humidity, and a dry winter.


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jun 28, 2012
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

JLP wrote:
My homeowner's insurance went up 30% last year to help pay for burned out homes.


And that is what perpetuates situations where people continually rebuild within the flood plain, on coasts in the path of hurricanes, and within forests without doing any fire mitigation on their property. If insurance companies demanded mitigation, then at least there would be a feedback mechanism to ensure that it actually gets done.

A friend of mine visited communities in the forest all last year and did assessments on homeowner's properties saying what trees needed to be cut and what else needed doing to keep wildfire from spreading there. Pretty much no one wanted to do the work.


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By Princess Mia
From Vail
Jun 28, 2012
Chillin' at City of Rocks

Amen


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By Buff Johnson
Jun 28, 2012
smiley face

Between Florida and govt mandates, the rest of the nation gets the shaft on the insurance deal.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Jun 28, 2012
Stabby

I've heard that the insurance companies are not renewing policies more and more in risky areas; which is how it should be. Anyone know of a case where the gubmint mandates that they cover high-risk properties?
I've just done a ton of work in Evergreen and am amazed at how many folks just live deep within the tress like that. The right firestorm there would be unprecedented.


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Jun 28, 2012
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

A couple of things.

#1 Most major forest fires are not "extinguished". They are contained. It would be nearly impossible to extinguish 15,000 acres. Instead you stop it's advance and then let it burn itself out.

#2 The reason Helicopters don't fly, on wildfires, at night is primarily due to the buckets hanging up to 100ft below them. The pilots can see what is going on with the ship itself...but with a bucket dangling far below. You get the idea. There is a type of equipment called a belly tank or L.A. tank that slides right onto the underside of a 212. They've occasionally been used at night.

#3 As to burning into the city (boulder in this case). It can happen, but its pretty rare. The Waldo incident in the Springs is pretty amazing, in a very bad way ofcourse. Typically the subdivisions that loses structures to wildfires are in fully forested areas. The fact that that fire burned into a full on suburban "cookie cutter" neighborhood and then started to burn house to house in what can be describe as a true conflageration, is interesting and atypical.
Basically it's stopped being a wildfire and instaed become a series of structure fires, each one igniting the exposures around it.
Water isn't something to really count on in Wildfires, but when it enters a major city, as in CoS, its really the only thing. Then its structure fire guys that have to be counted on, utilising Master streams. Paul was also right in that, for the most part, the fuels get more sparse as you get closer to the Boulder city limits. This makes defending the city easier. Another thing to remember is topography. Fire burns uphill much faster than down. The only way to override that is wind, like big time wind. So unless Boulder were to have a chinook event, which does happens in Boulder(primarily in the fall) if the fire were to head towards the city it wuld most likely not be doing it very quickly. That makes things easier as well.

Fire is a fairly dynaimc thing, and it does have its surprises, but there are certain things you can can on.

I believe the Springer fire startered as a lightning strike...and was originally being managed as a "prescribed natural fire". There's a newer term that is being used but that one works best for this description. There's a big difference between that and a "controlled burn". Man didn't put fire on the ground, mother nature did. Man was just letting mother nature do her thing.

josh


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By Wayne
From Superior, CO
Jun 28, 2012

saw this picture of the fire taken last night, shows where there is some activity on the front side.

www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3829963020151&set=a.12816956>>>


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By Steve Williams
From Denver, CO
Jun 28, 2012

Is Boulder Canyon still closed to climbing due to the
fire?
Thanks


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By Mike Smyth
From Spartanburg, SC
Jun 28, 2012
Stick clips can be very handy in this area to keep it a little safer

Good luck guys. Hopefully the weather cooperates today and they can get that under control. Colorado Springs is still dealing with this one down here. Thoughts and prayers are with all who are in the danger zone


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By GabeO
From Denver, CO
Jun 28, 2012

J. Thompson wrote:
#3 As to burning into the city (boulder in this case). It can happen, but its pretty rare. The Waldo incident in the Springs is pretty amazing, in a very bad way ofcourse. Typically the subdivisions that loses structures to wildfires are in fully forested areas. The fact that that fire burned into a full on suburban "cookie cutter" neighborhood and then started to burn house to house in what can be describe as a true conflageration, is interesting and atypical.


I don't know if there's any truth to this rumor, but I heard that a lot of new construction in that area of The Springs had shake shingles rather than asphalt. It's hard to believe, given what I imagine would be much higher insurance costs, but if it's true it would go a long way toward explaining what, as you say, is a very atypical event.

GO


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By Finn the Human
From The Land of Ooo
Jun 28, 2012
Mathematical!

www.wildfiretees.com/

Saw this website online and thought some people might be interested. All proceeds go to help Colorado wildfire victims.


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Jun 28, 2012
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

Does anyone have any information about a small fire last night near devils head and rampart range road?


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Jun 28, 2012
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

GabeO wrote:
I don't know if there's any truth to this rumor, but I heard that a lot of new construction in that area of The Springs had shake shingles rather than asphalt. It's hard to believe, given what I imagine would be much higher insurance costs, but if it's true it would go a long way toward explaining what, as you say, is a very atypical event. GO



That would be interesting... I'm pretty sure Shake shingles have been banned in new construction? Some places for sure, and there was some talk about adding it to the international fire code...hmmm.

josh


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By Glenn Schuler
From Monument, Co.
Jun 28, 2012
A grey fox skull wedged in a crack 100' up on a FA I was working on - don't see that every day...

JLP wrote:
I'll give them 30% of my insurance premiums. All my neighbors will be kicking in, too, despite living nowhere near such fire danger.


Classy JLP. Those families houses that were destroyed, it's totally their fault that your premiums went up.

A lot of people need help right now. If you can donate, great. If not, that's OK too. No need to be a dick.


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By Glenn Schuler
From Monument, Co.
Jun 28, 2012
A grey fox skull wedged in a crack 100' up on a FA I was working on - don't see that every day...

JLP wrote:
Help me out here. It doesn't sound like a very efficient place to send money.


I'm guessing a cash donation to the Red Cross would be best. They are the ones setting up and working the shelters where many evacuees are staying right now.


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By s.price
From PS,CO
Jun 28, 2012
 Morning Dew ,self portrait

Glenn Schuler wrote:
I'm guessing a cash donation to the Red Cross would be best. They are the ones setting up and working the shelters where many evacuees are staying right now.

Always the best bet.


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By TheBirdman
From Eldorado Springs, Colorado
Jun 28, 2012

JLP wrote:
It's a tragedy, for sure. I would hate to be a victim of it. However, I'm failing to make the connection between buying a t-shirt to support a food bank, and upper middle class families going hungry because of a fire. Help me out here. It doesn't sound like a very efficient place to send money. The main thing I see in the news is tax money supporting fire departments going to good use. Seems to me all systems are working as they should. The victims will get new houses with spiffy kitchens and the fire departments will get checks for their services - life goes on.


So, your main argument is that we should continue to perpetuate stupidity because at the end of the day, everybody gets paid? Look JLP, I am not one of those people who doesn't believe in stupid questions and generally find your insults thrown at n00bs, trolls, and the like somewhat entertaining. But to take the position that since insurance covers the homeowner's loss and the rescue workers ultimately get paid, we should assume everything is just dandy is pretty short-sighted. Wouldn't you like to save the 30% on your insurance premiums or at least have it steadily decrease because less and less homes are being built in high danger areas? Moreso, wouldn't you like to see fewer people need to be evacuated and risk losing their homes if and when a fire does flare up? The way to achieve this is not by throwing your arms up and saying, "Well, insurance will fix it." It's to avoid the problem in the first place. It seems to me you're playing devil's advocate for no apparent reason and when there isn't even really a case to make on the other side.


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