Category Archives: Fire

Rest of GVM Evacuated

I just received an email from Larimer County that ALL remaining residents of Glacier View Meadows must evacuate. This includes Gates 1-8, including roads north of hwy 74E. Due to increased winds causing several spot fires,  612 notifications were sent out at 3:15pm. Please be safe everyone.

GVM Community Meeting

Day 12. On June 20, 2012 7pm ~200+ residents of Glacier View Meadows and surrounding communities were updated by the Larimer County Sheriff, our Fire Chief, US Forest Service fire managers and the Red Cross. Using the latest fire map, strategic operations were discussed emphasizing the north and west flanks. It was hoped that the evacuations would be lifted in days not weeks. Today electricity was restored to filings 9-11.


GVM Gate 1 Closed

Day 11. This was the view from Gate 1. Smoke plumes were visible behind the Western Ridge Restaurant and National Guard personnel were on patrol. We were informed by the Guardsman that power had been shut off to the restaurant and throughout Filings 9-11 today (6/19/2012) because of another spot fire that jumped the Poudre River at Sheep Mountain, just south of GVM.


GVM Under Pre-evac

Day 5. On June 13, 2012 , we saw major smoke plumes and occasional flames which were visible on ridges to the south of the Poudre River. This is looking south at the High Park Fire from Guardian Peak Drive. Our sections of Glacier View Meadows (Filings 9-12) were under a 2-hour pre-evacuation notice.

CSU Article on Recent Fires

Fighting Brush Fire
Fighting Brush Fire

9/14/2010 From Ellen: I saw this article today from “Today @ Colorado State University” online newsletter. It also has interesting links from the Colorado State Forest Service at the end.

Dangerous conditions helped lead to wildfires currently raging in Front Range foothills.

As long as people continue to build in or near the mountains, fires will always be a threat.

Doug Rideout had a bad feeling Sept. 5 as he returned from a day trip in the Poudre Canyon.

“That weekend, the physical conditions were just perfect for a big fire,” said Rideout, a professor in Colorado State University’s Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship. “As we were coming down the canyon I said to my wife that, if anything got started, the conditions were just perfect for a fire to go fast and big. I could visualize the hillsides and drainages going up – more so than at any time I can think of in the last 12 months.”

Ideal fire conditions

Those conditions – very low humidity, high temperatures, gusty winds, and plenty of dry grasses – are not uncommon in early September. And as it turned out, Rideout’s fears became reality some 50 miles to the south when fire erupted west of Boulder. Since that time, the Fourmile Canyon fire has burned more than 6,000 acres and destroyed 169 homes. More than a week after it ignited, the fire is not fully contained and many evacuated residents have not been cleared to return to their homes.

Sunday, with those conditions still in place, another fire – this one west of Loveland – sprung to life. The Reservoir Road fire already has claimed at least two homes and continues to burn out of control.

Sherri Lebeda, an administrative assistant in CSU’s Department of Communications and Creative Services, grew up in the Mountain Meadows subdivision, which was one of the areas threatened by the Fourmile Canyon fire. Her parents evacuated their home of 40 years and spent several days living in their RV.

“It was a really hard time (last week) because we knew my parents had been evacuated by we weren’t able to talk to them, so there were some really anxious moments,” said Lebeda, whose husband, Boyd, is a district forester in Fort Collins for the Colorado State Forest Service. “The devastation up there is just amazing. My parents are very fortunate to still have their home. I really feel for the people who have lost their homes; I can’t imagine what that’s like.”

Living in foothills brings risks

Lebeda’s father has been a member of the area’s volunteer fire department for four decades. His home was surrounded by ponderosa pines and grassy meadows – perfect fuel for a hungry fire. But living in Colorado’s foothills comes with built-in threats that most homeowners willingly accept. He and his wife also evacuated in 1989 when a fire threatened their home.

“Honestly, the people who live up there are willing to live with the risk because they enjoy it so much,” she said. “I loved growing up there; it’s a great place to live.”

As long as people continue to build in or near the mountains, fires will always be a threat. But homeowners need to be particularly vigilant when conditions are ripe for a fast-moving fire.

Colorado, California fires similar

The wet Colorado spring created excellent growing conditions for grasses and other fuels perfect for wildfires.

Rideout said it has been several years since he has seen conditions similar to those currently in place along the Front Range. He compared conditions to those in Southern California when Santa Ana winds combine with chaparral conditions (hot, dry, and plenty of fuel) to create the massive fires that threaten lives and homes in the foothills.

Those same conditions were in place for two of Colorado’s most famous recent events: the Buffalo Creek fire in 1996, and the Hayman fire in 2002. Both caused extensive damage and costs millions of dollars to fight.

“When we get into those kinds of conditions, we learn just how powerful that type of fire is and how fast it can move and cut people off from evacuation,” Rideout said. “It’s hard to explain and visualize unless you’ve been there and seen it. All I know is that (Labor Day) weekend I was thinking that getting out of the mountains was a really good idea. I could just feel it, that something bad was about to happen.”

Rideout said the wet Colorado spring created excellent growing conditions for grasses and other fuels perfect for wildfires. But while trees killed by the recent mountain beetle infestation can burn quickly, he doubts those trees played a large role in the recent fires.

“Everyone thinks that the pine beetle problems make conditions much worse, but typically that’s only for the first year or two after infestation,” he said. “At first, when the needles turn bright red, the trees can be quite flammable. A year or two later, they are far less susceptible to fire.”

Homeowners can prepare for fires

The best way for homeowners to protect themselves and their property is to remove as much of the natural fuel fires need to spread. All flammable materials should be cleared away from structures, including trees and ground fuels. Planting fire-retardant plants near structures can also create a measure of protection. Rideout said homeowners who don’t take such precautions are literally playing with fire.

“The (Fourmile Canyon) fire is a really good wakeup call for people living in that urban interface to take a hard look at what they can do to protect their property,” he said. “Even the best efforts are not always successful, but it helps an awful lot and it’s often very effective.

“It’s also a good wakeup call for all of us to realize how fast and dangerous these fires can be. It’s really time for people who haven’t prepared themselves to take action. It can be costly but it can also be very costly if you don’t.”

Colorado State Forest Service resources

Juniper stump dates to 1608!

1/19/2010 Jim E. forwarded an email from Laurie Huckaby, tree-ring and fire-history specialist from with the USDA Forest Service’s Research Center in Fort Collins. Laurie wrote about the analysis of a charred juniper stump collected within a GVM greenbelt. Laurie said: “I did manage to date the section that we cut from that stump that John [Popp, Forestry Technician, USDA Forest Service] pulled up last summer. It was a Rocky Mountain juniper, and the pith date was 1608 AD. Not the oldest juniper I’ve found in the area, but definitely one of the older ones. The outside date was 1854, and I think that was pretty close to the death date. Juniper tends to burn up in fires and not make scars, but this one actually had scars from fires in 1685, 1696, and 1735. All of those were widespread fire years in the area.”

GVM area fire history updates

Jim Erdman forwarded an email exchange he had with Laurie Huckaby (USFS specialist in the fire history of this region — her passion, tree rings)
On 11/02/2009 Laurie wrote: “The last widespread fire in the Kelly Flats area was actually in the fall of 1871….I pick up the 1871 fire date in Young’s Gulch as well. There was a more localized event in 1880, a date that shows up at Gateway Park, too. The important thing to note about the historical fire regime is that although you could say there was a fire in any given location every 30 to 60 years, many of those fires were very localized, and fire frequency and intensity were not consistent through time. The late 1700s-early 1800s were a cold, wet period with reduced fire frequency; the mid-1800s were warm and dry, with more frequent fire that coincided with the settlement of this area. Direct fire suppression was not all that effective in your area [GVM] until the 1940s and 1950s, but heavy grazing in the late 1800s-early 1900s effectively stopped fire spread during that period. As for the oldest ponderosa pines, there are several living ones that date into the 1300s not too far from you. There is one on the Shambala Mountain Center property (near Red Feather Lakes)  that dates to 1321, and one on the north rim at Pingree Hill that dates to 1336. Go to Peter Brown’s OLDLIST website  to see a list of old trees submitted by tree-ring scientists. I finally got a chance to cut that stump John [Popp] and I collected. It is a Rocky Mountain Juniper! I didn’t expect that. It has no fire scars but lots of rings. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to date it in the next couple of weeks. I’ll let you know when I do.”

11/2/2009 Part of Jim Erdman’s email response: “…Dating that juniper in what you’d called “a pretty interesting place” — the Mount Peale green belt — may help with that charred ponderosa stump nearby. I cored a close-by, very young ponderosa established since the burn, and you dated the pith at only 1930! The site by Iron Mountain Drive lies in a very mesic spot where I’m sure snow accumulates.”

Sept Flowers, Tree History featured on Nature Walk

9/7/2009 Jim E. led a nature walk in the Forest Service inholding at Haystack Dr with Andre, Ellen, Judy, Karen D., Mary, Warren & Wynne on a partly sunny September afternoon. We started with an overview by Jim’s truck with a poster that included a table entitled “The World’s Oldest Known Trees,” and displays of annual sunflower, valerian root, and fetid marigold. Jim passed around the valerian root (the plant is called edible valerian or tobacco root) for us to smell and he read about its medicinal uses

Trees:  Jim showed the trees that he identified for Laurie Huckaby and John Popp, of the U.S. Forest Service,  as potentially very old trees from the 1500s. He pointed out these old trees may have survived due to protection by surrounding rocks.

10/16/09 Jim emailed additional information: “During the May 20th outing with Laurie Huckaby, the local USFS’s key researcher on the fire history of this northern region, she said the few old meadow trees belonged to that ~1500 A.D. cohort, a period of ample moisture. Indeed, she’d cored a large ponderosa in that cluster, untouched by beetles. The pith date: 1575, with her estimated real age of 1535. Yet she’s found 700-800 year-old ponderosas up in the Red Mountain area to the north. Roughly 200-year intervals occur between cohorts, established during off-year drought cycles. The oldest known ponderosa — 880-890 — was found in Utah. That, based on a table, ‘The World’s Oldest Known Trees’ in a USGS/USFS poster (no date), Colorado’s Ancient Trees.”

Mountain Pine beetle: We saw several pine beetle-infested trees that had been cut down within a cluster of infested trees. The wood was then stacked and wrapped in plastic by the U.S. Forest service.

Flowers: yarrow, blanket flower, gumweed, black-eyed susan, smooth white aster or Porter aster, valerian, yellow owl-clover, yellow sweet-clover, bottle gentian, tansy aster, golden aster,

Grasses: squirreltail, shortawn foxtail, June-grass, timothy.