Dispatch from the Edge

By Peter Anderson The night the fire came over the ridge, I happened to be walking near downtown Salida when I saw a large four-legged shadow in someone’s yard. Big dog, I thought. Only it wasn’t a dog. When it walked under the streetlight in a back alley I said hello to a bear, a …

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Between Fire and Flood

By Hal Walter After the driest spell in recent memory, the rains came pitter-pattering on the leaves of thirsty plants, splattering upon the dusty ground and at last creating a steady pouring sound as the water streamed from the roof splashing into the flower beds. I’d just finished a long period of “work” which mostly …

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A Matter of Time

By Hal Walter

I was running with Teddy the Junkyard Jack down Music Pass in preparation for the upcoming pack-burro races when I first saw the smoke from the Hayden Pass fire. I knew at once these were not cumulus clouds with their billowing heads, amber undersides and dull rainbows in the folds.
I had failed to reach the top of Music Pass that Sunday, not due to anything physical but rather because of time constraints so common to the steel-jaw trap of family life. The summit would have to wait for another day.
From this vantage at the south end of the Wet Mountain Valley I could not get a pinpoint on the fire, only that it was somewhere in the range north of Westcliffe. Judging from the height of the smoke I figured it was mid-altitude on the range, and large.
I watched the smoke boil and fan eastward with the afternoon wind as I changed out of running clothes. Then I began driving toward town, where I could clearly see the fire was in the Coaldale area.
Back home, the edge of the smoke towered overhead, with a breeze cleaning the air at ground level. I knew this would change.

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Air Power – Fighting Wildfires from the Sky

By Ron Sering

Prior to the end of World War II, planes were deployed to wildfires as spotters. At the end of the war, with a good supply of surplus bombers, many were quickly deployed as air tankers, dropping water and chemical retardant to support the ground crews.
Helicopters are used as well, to make more precise drops on fire location. The Salida airport is a service stop for the several helicopters supporting ground efforts with the Hayden Pass Fire.

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John Mattingly: The War on Fire

By John Mattingly

Wildfires are not inspired by ISIS, but the war on fire and the war on terror share a few futilities. Fighting fire is somewhat like squaring off against the sun.
Sun, water and earth combine to form carbohydrates and sometimes nitrogenized carbohydrates (proteins), all of which burn through either combustion or metabolism in relatively short time spans. Simple carbohydrates, like leaves and vegetable matter, burn relatively quickly and usually within a year. More complex carbohydrates, lignins, like trees, have a longer calendar for burning, but a visit to any forest shows that at all times some of the lignin is being burned, if not by fire then by microbes and bigger creatures. If the full family of carbohydrates did not burn, the litter would make it very difficult to move about on the land surfaces of Earth, and lightning ignitions would be enormously hazardous to mammals. As it is, humans are working industriously on a positive feedback loop of carbon emissions that increase heat and carbon dioxide, that in turn increase heat and carbon dioxide and more forest fires.

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From the Editor: Fire on the Mountain

By Mike Rosso

July 10 was a crystal clear, blue sky, Colorado day when my friend Julia and I decided to take a hike on the Colorado Trail up on Monarch Pass.
That same day, the temperature recorded at Denver International Airport hit 101 degrees, setting a record high for that date. But we were very contented with the comfortable 80 degrees the mountains afforded us. The forest floor was lush with flowers and undergrowth. Fooses Creek was running clear, cool and bright. You couldn’t really ask for a nicer day.

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Tough Month

It’s been an abysmal news cycle in Colorado since our last issue. First, we had one of the worst fires in our state’s history. 346 homes were destroyed on the edge of Colorado Springs in the 18,247-acre Waldo Canyon fire which started on June 23. As of press time, the cause has yet been determined.

Here in Salida, we felt some of the effects: from smoke in the valley to evacuees taking refuge in the cooler climate. At the local farm market I met a couple from Woodland Park who had to evacuate their home and were fortunate to have a second home here to escape to. Another couple were from Manitou Springs, the first area to be evacuated, and were camping out on national forest land. They joked about how they weren’t allowed to have a campfire.

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New settlement patterns increase fire risks

Brief by Allen Best

Fire – September 2007 – Colorado Central Magazine

USA Today reports a major influx of new residents in the semi-rural areas of the West, setting the stage for potentially costly and — and deadly — wildfires.

The newspaper analyzed population figures to conclude that roughly 450,000 people have moved into these wildfire-endangered areas since 2000.

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Spontaneous combustion

Brief by Allen Best

Fire – July 2007 – Colorado Central Magazine

It was, said one shop-owner, the most interesting thing that happened in Crested Butte during the spring shoulder-season. A storage shed located in the town park spontaneously combusted.

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The burning threat to the Sangres

Article by Tom Wolf

Fire – August 1994 – Colorado Central Magazine

Wildfire is burning in the Wet Mountain Valley. I smell the smoke before I see it. If I were alone here, I might be glad for a stirring burn; we’re a century or so overdue.

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