Black Forest Fire Now Most Destructive in Colorado History, 360 Homes Lost And No Containment

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"Black Forest Fire Now Most Destructive in Colorado History, 360 Homes Lost And No Containment"

Helicopter makes a water drop on Black Forest Fire in Colorado Springs (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

At a Thursday morning press conference, officials reported that the Black Forest Fire raging near Colorado Springs is now the most destructive in state history, surpassing the Waldo Canyon Fire that ravaged the same area just one year ago.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said the fire doubled in size Wednesday –15,000 acres are now ablaze, with 360 homes destroyed and 38,000 people currently in the evacuation area. As the dry, hot, windy conditions that have stoked the fire thus far are predicted to continue through Friday, Maketa said there is currently zero percent containment.

On the other side of Colorado Springs, the Royal Gorge Fire has destroyed an estimated 3,100 acres and 20 structures with 20 percent containment reported as of Wednesday evening. The fire is burning on both sides of the iconic Royal Gorge Bridge which spans the Arkansas River and attracts thousands of tourists to the area each year. The Royal Gorge Fire forced the evacuation of the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility outside Canon City to other prisons on Tuesday.

As Mother Jones explains, climate change is intensifying the extreme heat, drought, and other conditions that fuel devastating wildfires. As forests become hotter and drier, and milder winters lead to an increase in infestations such as the pine bark beetle, a recent report authored by U.S. Forest Service scientists predicts that the acreage burned by wildfires will double by 2050 to about 20 million acres annually.

2012 marked the worst fire season Colorado had ever seen, as 4,167 wildfires caused record losses of $538 million.

Update

As of Friday morning, the Black Forest Fire has claimed two lives and is estimated at 15,702 acres with just five percent containment. 379 homes have been lost and the evacuation area covers more than 94,000 acres, includes 38,000 people and affects 34,000 homes. According to KDVR Denver, “The inferno is likely to continue for a couple more days as temperatures are forecast to stay in the 90s through Friday, with winds gusting up to 30 mph.”

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11 Responses to Black Forest Fire Now Most Destructive in Colorado History, 360 Homes Lost And No Containment

  1. GreenCaboose says:

    Writing this from the pre-evacuation zone (as of this minute). Colorado is used to widely varied temps all through the year and has a long history of boom-and-bust years in terms of precipitation (dating back to a 30 year drought in the 1200s at Mesa Verde). But the combination of extended dry-and-hot has been very unusual these last two years. Just don’t tell the locals this has anything to do with climate change ….

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Why won’t they listen? Is it fear?

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Real fear is our friend: it is what stops us doing stupid things. The deniers are not motivated by fear, they are showing bravado in the face of the fact that their belief they can dominate nature has been proven to be wrong, ME

      • GreenCaboose says:

        This is an intensely conservative town – the primary industry is military, the secondary is all the right wing religious-based charities. There are but a few areas of enlightenment. Think of it as the yang to Boulder’s yin.

        For 30 years the right wing media machine has been telling them that liberals are the greatest evil on the planet – and in the process painting quite a caricature. Any thing that is seen as pro-environment will be dismissed immediately. In order to sell environmental ideas you have to put it in terms of jobs and the economy.

  2. GreenCaboose says:

    Oh, and the fire around Royal Gorge itself is out. The bridge, fortunately, survived, and apparently they evacuated all the livestock. But most of the other structures were lost including the cross-gorge tram.

  3. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    So sad to see fires like this in my beautiful home state. (:

  4. sfrussell1963 says:

    The writer should have looked at a map before penning this story. The Royal Gorge is not “on the other side of Colorado Springs”. In fact it is over 100 miles away.

  5. KR says:

    You can blame global warming here, but there are other factors at work too. A century of fire suppression has allowed fuel to build up. And these folks decided to build their homes in harms way. So even without global warming they were headed for trouble.

  6. Rob Willhelm says:

    Lets build some more home in known fire zones, ugh?

  7. J Hitsch says:

    As of Friday morning local news reports they didn’t lose ground over night and had a 5% containment.

    The smoke is not nearly as black as it was on Wednesday or Thursday. I can see the cloud from my bedroom window about 8 miles to the SW of Black Forest.