1. #1
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    Default Missionary Ridge Fire

    The fire made a big run tonight toward several subdivisions. It is roughly estimated at 12,000-13,000 acres at this time. No structures have been lost, although the fire progressed with in feet of several. All available Type one engines from Fort Lewis Mesa, Ignacio, Mancos, Cortez, Silverton and Pagosa were requested for structure protection

    ************************************************** *******************

    VALLECITO – Erratic winds fanned the Missionary Ridge Fire into unburned areas as night fell Thursday, putting up a huge column of smoke and forcing the evacuation of at least two subdivisions about 15 miles north of Durango.

    Sheriff's deputies and search and rescue personnel were going door to door telling residents in Los Ranchitos and Aspen Trails to get out. Many of those forced out of their homes were spending the night at Bayfield High School.

    Local firefighters were staging at Helen's Store at the intersection of county roads 240 (Florida Road) and 243, south of Lemon Reservoir. Additional fire equipment and a crew was en route from Cortez, and bulldozers were being brought in from area construction companies to aid in the fight to save homes.

    The fire exploded at about midday Thursday in Youngs Canyon, north of Lemon Reservoir, and in the Stevens Creek Drainage, southwest of the reservoir.

    It was estimated to be 12,000 to 13,000 acres in size with a fire line dug around 20 percent of its 23-mile perimeter, said Mike Morrow, a spokesman for the Blue Mountain Fire Team, which has been called in to manage the fire.

    "The fire was very active today, but we are still catching everything with retardant," Morrow said on Thursday.

    Winds mostly out of the northwest fanned the fire toward homes north of Lemon Reservoir and several miles south of the reservoir along County Road 240.

    Residents in the Aspen Trails, Los Ranchitos and Hacienda de la Florida subdivisions were advised Thursday morning to be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Residents living northwest of Helen’s Store were also advised to be prepared to leave.

    "My goal with this alert is to provide as much advance notice as possible to residents in the affected area to enable them to plan and prepare their families in the event that evacuation is necessary," said Butch Knowlton, director of emergency preparedness in La Plata County.

    Many residents in those areas packed their personal belongings and planned to stay in Durango for the night, while others were determined to stay with their homes for as long as possible.

    "We’re going to stay here until they tell us to evacuate," said 15-year-old Erin Whitehead, who lives in the Aspen Trails subdivision. "If (my house) is going to burn I want to see my house. I want to be around my house as long as possible."

    Whitehead said she and her parents had moved their belongings to a concrete basement and to Durango.

    From the Aspen Trails subdivision all the way to the north end of Lemon Reservoir there was thick smoke that blotted out the sun. Ash rained from the sky in those areas for most of the day.

    Rod Davis, who lives south of Helen’s Store, said he had his belongings packed and planned to stay in Durango Thursday night.

    "Once ashes start falling around a house, that’s when I usually go," said Davis, who used to build fire lines for the Forest Service. "I don’t want to deal with a spot fire that lands down valley. The spot fires are my biggest concern."

    Chief Jim Piccoli, of the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District, was driving through threatened subdivisions Thursday sizing up which homes could be saved without putting firefighters at too much risk.

    Some homes are so high on the hillside that a spot fire could start under them and trap firefighters, Piccoli said.

    "We’re gong to have a lot of resources here to fight a battle if Mother Nature will allow us," he said.

    "Right now the guys are starting to get a little more edgy," but they’re ready for a battle if it should come to that, he said.

    The Durango Fire & Rescue Authority was also prepared to protect structures.

    "We are setting up for an all-out battle," said Tom Kaufman, fire marshal for the authority.

    "There are hundreds of homes in the fire’s path, from the Durango Hills subdivision, to Enchanted Forest to 'Tween Lakes," he said.

    Morrow said the humidity levels were expected to be extremely low today at 4 to 9 percent. The fire danger becomes dangerous when humidity levels drop below 14 percent, he said.

    The incident command team managing the fire has a computerized alarm that sounds when the humidity drops to 14 percent. On Tuesday the alarm sounded at 11:30 a.m., on Wednesday the alarm sounded at 9 a.m. and on Thursday the alarm sounded at 5:15 a.m., Morrow said.

    As of Thursday evening, there were 472 people associated with the firefighting effort, two air tankers and three helicopters. The incident command team was hoping to get a third air tanker and another helicopter, Morrow said.

    The price tag on fighting the blaze thus far was estimated at $1.4 million.

    Two firefighters were injured Thursday. One got hit in the back by a snag and had to go to the hospital where he was in good condition, and another had smoke inhalation and water in the lungs, Morrow said. He was also in good condition.

    E-mail Staff Writer Shane Benjamin.

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    Default Safe?

    I must ask....is ramseycl and the family safe? I've been concerned as to your location and the advancing fires.

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    I'm doing good. My house is about 6 miles from the fire, but it is heading in my direction. I had a horse accident last week, crushed my right arm, so I am not allowed on the fires for now. I am working a lot of over time in the dispatch center. There will be more fires. We looked at the recoreds and for the year to date we have received less than an inch of rain, we should have received at least 8

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    Thumbs up

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery....stay safe...ALL of you!
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    Friday, June 14, 2002 - 3:30 p.m. - DURANGO - About 120 homes were evacuated and homeowners in five other subdivisions were on alert today after a 18,155-acre fire came within 50 yards of homes.

    About 500 firefighters were battling the fire in aspen, Douglas fir, Colorado blue spruce, Ponderosa pine, and brush, and three air tankers were making retardant drops. Six helicopters dropped water on the fire 10 miles northeast of the city. No homes had been lost by mid-day.

    "It's very dense vegetation. There is no virtually no open space between the fire and homes," said Lt. Dan Bender of the La Plata County Sheriff's office.

    "Our conditions are dangerous. Our fire is dangerous," said Bender. Winds were gusting to 16 mph and were expected to increase.

    These fires were among at least seven major fires burning in the state, including a 100,000-acre fire burning 40 miles southwest of Denver.

    A nearly 12,000-acre fire near Storm King Mountain outside Glenwood Springs was occupying 700 firefighters. It destroyed 28 homes before cooler weather and lighter winds slowed it down.

    The fire, started when a long-smoldering underground coal fire reached the surface, was 30 percent contained Friday. Most of the 3,000 evacuated when it erupted June 8 have returned to their homes.
    Last edited by ramseycl; 06-15-2002 at 01:28 AM.

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    The fire made a huge run. There are reports of over a thousand people trapped at Vallecito Dam. The fire has cut off the only road into the area, all people that are trapped are gathering at the shore to the lake. They have evacuated three more subdivisions.

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    DURANGO - The thick clouds of smoke massing over the hills around Vallecito Reservoir on Tuesday looked like giant thunderheads - a cruel joke of nature for the grim-faced people watching the skies from the parking lot of Bayfield High School.

    Fire bosses on the 44,320-acre Missionary Ridge fire say man is no match for this one: Only a good, soaking rain can squelch this blaze racing hungrily for 6,000 to 7,000 acres a day through timber that is twice as dry as the boards on the shelves of lumberyards.

    But no rain is in the forecast for at least the next 10 days.

    Residents of the roughly 1,800 evacuated homes here have only these acrid clouds of ash on the horizon.

    "This thing is like a nuclear bomb. No human being is going to stop it right now," fire information officer Bill Paxton told evacuees Tuesday afternoon in Bayfield.

    And firefighters can only go on the defensive against a blaze - now the second largest in Colorado history - that keeps surprising them with wind-whipped twists and turns, 50-mph runs up mountain ridges and behavior more extreme than many seasoned firefighters have ever seen.

    Late Monday, the fire created vortexes described as "fire tornadoes" that turned over one vehicle and sucked 100-foot-tall burning trees out of the ground by the roots. They were incinerated in seconds. At the same time, the unpredictable fire tornado rolled right across the tops of some buildings near Vallecito, including the community center and the Buffalo Gap Restaurant, and didn't even singe them.

    Gusts snapped 100-year-old trees in half and flung chunks of burning debris into the dry lakebed that was Vallecito Reservoir before this year's record drought. The lakebed had been a designated safe zone as late as Sunday night. But vehicles and belongings that residents left in the dirt were charred when fire rained from above.

    Wind ripped at the chamber of commerce. A fiery vortex would consume one house while snuffing out flames around another. So far, at least 15 structures have burned.

    Early Tuesday, a 10-person church group from Knoxville, Tenn., had to be rescued by helicopter from a 12,400-foot perch north of Vallecito.

    The complex and voracious blaze kept emergency and fire officials so busy Tuesday that they could not assess damage to homes.

    Paxton said that all the 846 firefighters, 92 fire engines, eight tankers, seven helicopters and 10 bulldozers on this "big eating machine of a fire" can do is "try to herd it."

    That became tougher this week when the fire blew up Sunday, made a fast run across fire lines around Vallecito Reservoir on Monday, and Tuesday popped over ridges to the northeast of Durango, causing the evacuation of another 15 homes and small businesses.

    Early Tuesday, fire officials knew that eight homes, two trailers and five other structures had burned.

    Lt. David Griggs with the LaPlata County Sheriff's Office said that by Tuesday afternoon firefighters had still not been able to do a house-by-house check of all the evacuated areas around Vallecito Reservoir because they were still too dangerous.

    But officials say they know they are going to find homes burned.

    "There's no reason for optimism," fire incident commander trainee George Custer told the crowd who came to the Bayfield High School evacuation center Tuesday to ask detailed but mostly unanswerable questions about what the fire had burned.

    "This is just crazy. The line they just drew right there is right on top of my house," said John Bagley as he scanned an updated fire map. Bagley and his family loaded up an RV, two pickups and a car and fled from their home north of Vallecito five days ago. They still have no idea if their home is still standing.

    "I never thought I'd see anything like these beautiful hills on fire," said Geri Womack, who cried on a friend's shoulder as she listened to the bad news about the fire and heard nothing about her Vallecito Reservoir home.

    J.D. Faulkenberry and his family drove from the Dallas area to Bayfield on Sunday after they monitored the fire through the Internet and determined it was getting close to their cedar home near Vallecito.

    They haven't been able to get into the area or find out if their cabin has burned.

    "We almost feel guilty even saying anything about ours because of the people who live here full time," Faulkenberry said as he watched the distant ridge above his cabin boil up with smoke.

    Firefighters have fought to save homes; they have also been concentrating on a Verizon Wireless tower north of Durango near Stevens Gulch. The tower provides much of the wireless communication for the Durango area and its loss would hamper the ability of firefighters and emergency service providers to communicate.

    Paxton sees no end to the Missionary Ridge fire. It's been ranked the worst fire in the country and the San Juan Basin deemed the driest spot in the nation.

    Moisture in the conifers and Ponderosa pines has fallen below 5 percent. Boards in lumberyards normally have moisture content of 12 percent. Paxton said fire behavior analysts here have determined that if a spark hits the ground there is a 100 percent probability of ignition.

    Paxton said the only way the fire will end is with a significant rainfall - or in this drought year - with a snowfall.

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    Post Missionary Ridge

    I'll be watching this fire a bit more closely now. Members of my NJ Forest Fire division have arrived on scene, assuming supervisory positions dealing with structural protection, engine crews, field observation and dispatch.

    God's speed brothers!
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    We just got an update advising:
    53,888 acres, 33 homes, 26 outbuildings, have burned. They have 1,119 personnel, twenty 29-person crews, 8 helicopters, 5 air tankers, 99 engines, 12 dozers, 7 water tenders assigned to the incident.

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    They have decided that the fire was started by a carbon spark from an engine, not a cigarette.

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    HELEN’S STORE – Pam Johnson did her very best to save her retirement dream home in the woods above the Florida River just south of Lemon Dam on Saturday.

    When she left it in the face of a firestorm advancing from the Missionary Ridge Fire, she knew she might never see it again.

    "I’ve never seen forest fire, and when you see the magnitude and you think about all the young men and women out there fighting this fire, you can’t help but have huge respect for them and hope for their safety and your property and your neighbor’s property," Johnson said. "And when it’s all over with, I guess it’s all up to Mother Nature whether she cooperates or not."


    People look north to view the fire from County Road 501 as the plume of smoke rises above and behind them Saturday in Bayfield. Authorities evacuated four subdivisions Saturday night.


    Marie and Clarence Shilling, who own Helen’s Store, and Tween Lakes resident Fred Finlay watch through the store window as the fire approaches Saturday from the north. They ended up evacuating.

    Johnson went to Home Depot in Houston, Texas, last week, where she bought six-foot lengths of galvanized pipe, brass connectors and sprinkler heads. On Thursday morning, she flew to Durango. She went straight to her home and set up an elaborate system that rains water from the roofline at each corner of the house.

    "It’s put on there so that it’ll sweep the sides of the house," she said. "It’s our dream home. It’s our place to retire.

    "I couldn’t stay at home and do nothing. It may not make a difference, but at least I’ll know I tried."

    Sheriff’s Lt. Dan Bender shook his head Saturday at the system Wilson had built to try and defend her home. "I’m doing good to get the lid back on my Gatorade," he said.

    - - -

    Dirk Dietrich also did his best to save his cabin on the east side of Lemon Reservoir.

    "It would kill me to have that burn down," Dietrich said. "That’s our life’s dream home."

    On Saturday afternoon, he said, "If it comes over this ridge, I’m gone." He was looking at the west side of the Lemon Reservoir. The fire came over the ridge minutes later. Dietrich said he’d soak his house, grab a propane tank, close the windows and doors and "pray for rain."

    He also said that, while the Missionary Ridge Fire was clearly beyond firefighters’ control, no one should fault them.

    "I woke up this morning with the helicopters going," he said. "Anybody that gripes about what’s going on here is out of their mind. Look at the hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent right now, and this is just the beginning of the season."

    - - -

    Fred Finlay grabbed the tools that help him make his living as a carpenter and his yellow cat, Twitchy, and fled Tween Lakes as fire advanced Saturday. He had known the fire was coming and had driven out three truckloads of possessions in the previous days.

    "I’ve been watching from the ridge all week," he said. "(Firefighters) are doing a fantastic job. It’s uncontrollable."

    For the first day or two, the morning lull in the fire was reassuring, Finlay said. Then he realized the lull was deceptive and the fire flared up late each afternoon.

    "I started watching the patterns," he said. "It’s really unpredictable. You don’t know what it’s doing from one minute to the next."

    - - -

    Before Finlay drove out on Saturday, he stopped by Helen’s Store, at the intersection of County Road 243 and County Road 240 south of Lemon Dam. Helen Burkett started the store in 1936.

    Marie Shilling, Burkett’s daughter, runs the store most days now. Though it’s inside an area closed off to residents, Shilling has kept it open during the Missionary Ridge Fire.

    Her neighbors in the Florida River Valley collected $285 and gave it to her so that firefighters could take what they need from the store without paying.

    "When the fire people come in, I just let them have what they want and write it down," Shilling said. "They’re doing a real good job and deserve a lot of credit. It’s been a hot old hard deal. The terrain is really terrible here. Can’t get through. It’s stupid that somebody would do such a stupid thing as throw away a cigarette."

    Shilling had planned to be open for the firefighters again today. But the firestorm came down her valley late Saturday, and she finally fled its fury.

    Reach Staff Writer Jim Greenhill at jim@durangoherald.com

    MISSIONARY RIDGE FIRE AT A GLANCE
    20 June 2002

    Evacuations: Los Ranchitos, Aspen Trails, Trew Creek Estates, Tween Lakes, Enchanted Forest Estates, Coolwater, Los Piños, Forest Lakes, Pine River Ranches and River Ranch subdivisions; portions of the Bear Creek Pines, Gray Hackle and other subdivisions and houses within 1¾ miles of the center of Forest Lakes; County Road 243; south of Vallecito Dam on County Road 501 to Florida Road; all residences north of Vallecito Dam; parts of County Roads 240 and 245; parts of County Road 250; parts of the Elkhorn Ranch development and Missionary Ridge Road.
    Pre-evacuation notices Durango Hills, Florida Pines and Florida River Estates north of Florida Road (County Road 240) and East Animas Road (County Road 250) from its intersection with Trimble Lane to Missionary Ridge Road including homes along Missionary Ridge Road.

    Structures lost: 33 homes, 25 outbuildings and one cabin.

    Homes evacuated: 1,760.

    Acres: 53,888.

    Containment (fire line): 25 percent.

    Firefighters: 1,119 federal, state and local.

    Equipment: 8 helicopters, 4 air tankers, 12 bulldozers, 7 water trucks, 99 fire engines

    Injuries: Three on Wednesday.

    Cost: $7.1 million.

    Source: U.S. Forest Service

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    HERMOSA – An explosive new fire three miles north of Durango devoured at least six homes and forced new evacuations and road closures on Tuesday, showing no mercy to a community already thrashed by the Missionary Ridge Fire looming ever closer.

    The fast-moving fire – at 400 acres by 9 p.m. – erupted about 4 p.m. and forced an immediate evacuation of at least 90 homes in the Falls Creek Ranch and High Meadows Ranch subdivisions and the closure of U.S. Highway 550 and County Roads 203 and 205 (Falls Creek Road).

    Soon after, additional evacuations were issued for residents of County Road 203 from the 4500 block north to Trimble Lane, near the Trimble Hot Springs, and then for residents from Trimble Lane north to the 7200 block, near the Animas Valley Grange Hall. About 240 residences were evacuated in all, county officials said.

    "We don’t need this right now," Sheriff Duke Schirard said as he manned a road block before the fire had reached County Road 203.

    But a concentrated attack by helicopters and air tankers working side by side saved many homes, sheriff’s Lt. Dan Bender said.


    One of several homes destroyed by a new fire dubbed the Valley Fire near Durango burns Tuesday along County Road 203. The occupants of the house were evacuated safely, officials said. Residents were evacuated from homes along County Road 203.
    As worries grew that either fire could threaten Durango, City Manager Bob Ledger urged caution. "Perish the thought," he said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. "But nevertheless, anything is possible. I think we all need to be on guard and be concerned."

    The new fire, dubbed the Valley Fire, was three miles north of the city limits. The 66,983-acre Missionary Ridge Fire raged less than two miles away to the east.

    But that fire did not grow significantly Tuesday, federal officials said.

    The Valley Fire began on private property in Falls Creek, said Dave Abercrombie, a Durango Fire & Rescue Authority official and acting information officer for the fire. It quickly climbed east over a ridge toward County Road 203.

    Cause undetermined

    Authorities said the cause was under investigation. Residents of County Road 203 speculated that the fire might have been caused by a spark from an excavator that hit a rock.

    Trimble Hot Springs was among the homes and businesses evacuated. The fire blazed past the well-known attraction, and firefighters foamed its roof to protect it from falling embers.

    The fire also came within 100 yards of a La Plata Electric Association substation near the hot springs, which forced LPEA to cut the power off for the entire Animas Valley, or 2,000 homes, at 5:43 p.m.

    Power was restored to 700 homes at 7:40 p.m., according to LPEA. The remaining 1,300 homes were not expected to have power Tuesday night.

    Pre-evacuation warnings were issued for homes from the 7200 block north to the end of County Road 203, including all of Hermosa and Apple Orchard Road (County Road 202).

    Highway 550 and County Road 203 – from Sweeney’s Restaurant to the Waterfall Village subdivision – were re-opened Tuesday night, but evacuations remained in effect through the night.

    "People should be aware of the extreme hazard of this fire and flee their homes immediately," Butch Knowlton, director of emergency preparedness for La Plata County, told officials on the police radio shortly after the fire broke out.

    Knowlton said Tuesday night that he saw six homes that had been destroyed, but he did not rule out that there could be more. Residents on County Road 203 said homes on Red Ridge Road had disappeared.

    Schirard said the fire "was almost overpowering when it came over the ridge."

    FEMA chief sees fire

    Jon Knowles, a resident of the Durango Village Mobile Home Park, just south of Trimble Lane on County Road 203, said he watched a "million-dollar" cabin burn. Still, observing the destruction was not enough to make him leave.

    "They said if you leave you’re not going to get to come back, so you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do," he said. "I still feel confident. We have a good 50 feet (of space from the fire). It doesn’t sound good, but it’s a lot more than some people have."

    Joe Allbaugh, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was in town to see the Missionary Ridge Fire when the Valley Fire broke out. Two and a half hours later, he authorized FEMA funds for the fire.

    "Having seen this fire firsthand, I know that FEMA resources will be an important part of this firefighting effort," Allbaugh said in an evening news release. FEMA assistance covers expenses such as the cost of having a camp and equipment, and bringing in out-of-town firefighters.

    Tim Cunningham, his wife and five children were among the evacuees at Escalante Middle School on Tuesday. Cunningham said he received a call at home, where he has an office, about a plume of smoke spiraling from behind Trimble Hot Springs.

    As he packed, he said, he "heard horns honking down the road with people yelling ‘Get out, get out!’" Moments later, he received a reverse 911 call with the official evacuation notice.

    Mark Doney, a resident of the 5000 block of County Road 203, has watched the fires on both sides of the valley and believes the city of Durango is in danger.

    "Unless you have some major rain, Durango could definitely be next," Doney said.

    Third shelter opens

    The fire only agitated the worries of residents who have watched the Missionary Ridge Fire with unease, and the numerous surprises it has dealt fire officials and onlookers.

    Charlotte Bumgarner, a resident of County Road 203, was on the phone assuring her in-laws in Albuquerque that her family was not in the path of the Missionary Ridge blaze when the Valley Fire arrived.

    Her son said, "Mommy, there’s smoke behind us."

    Randy Bumgarner, her husband, was sitting outside watching helicopters attack the Missionary Ridge Fire across the valley. When the helicopters began flying overhead, he turned around to see smoke on the ridge.

    "I just suspect this is just a taste of what the summer is going to be like," he said.

    In response to the Valley Fire, the American Red Cross opened a new shelter – the third since the Missionary Ridge Fire started June 9 – at Durango Mountain Resort. The other shelters are at Bayfield High School and Escalante Middle School.

    Firefighters were visibly frustrated. Late Tuesday night, Schirard said "tempers are getting short; people are getting tired."

    At a 6:30 p.m. briefing at the incident command post for the Missionary Ridge Fire, firefighters were reminded to stay focused on the fire they were assigned to.

    "A lot of folks on the line wanted to head that way and give some help," said Incident Commander Wally Bennett. "We do have to keep focused on what we’re doing here on Missionary Ridge."

    Lemon may reopen

    That fire had a relatively quiet day, officials said. Seven percent, or 4,704 acres, is now in the Weminuche Wilderness. The fire encroached on Woodard Canyon, an area near subdivisions, but crews managed to keep it away from houses.

    Federal officials were considering reopening Lemon Reservoir, after a quiet day in the area. La Plata Electric Association crews laid new power lines alongside the road.

    There were Army National Guard roadblocks at Vallecito Dam and the north end of County Road 501-A. The east side of the reservoir – where the fire is still active – was closed.

    Fire officials warned community members at a public meeting at Miller Middle School on Tuesday night that if the fire’s northeast corner continues to press toward Slide Mountain, a new group of firefighters may have to be stationed at Pagosa Springs.

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    ramseycl I hope that your family stays safe, and that sucks about your arm, I know a few others this year that are hurt and cant do wildland fire.

    Have you got some barricade fire gel?

    There is also another product on the market called Thermo Gel, I have not got a chance to use the Thermo gel, but have used the Barricade and have to say its worth its weight in gold.

    Stay Safe,

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    I have not heard of either of those.
    I was told not to use it for three months. Yesterday I decided that I was going to rake the yard, big mistake now my arm is all swollen again and really sore.
    They have the second fire almost contained.

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    Unhappy

    TRIMBLE, Colo. (AP) - Firefighter Paul Matney was helping defend
    homes threatened by an aggressive wildfire north of Durango when he
    learned he needed some help to protect his own home.
    Matney, a lieutenant with Durango Fire Rescue Authority, learned
    Tuesday that a smaller, second blaze was bearing down on his fire
    station, where he has lived in a back apartment with his family for
    five years.
    He was 20 miles from the Trimble firehouse with all of the
    station's firefighters and equipment. The station was empty except
    for his wife and two children.
    "I knew it was here and I knew where it was heading," Matney
    said of the fire Wednesday. "I was scared. I wanted to know where
    my kids were, where my wife was."
    Michelle Matney, Paul Matney's wife, spotted the flames through
    a bedroom window and rushed out of the firehouse.
    "I grabbed my photo albums, cats and kids and got out of
    here," she said. "By the time we left, chunks of hot ash were
    falling from the sky."
    The firehouse was spared, but the smaller blaze has forced
    evacuations of 240 homes, consumed at least six structures and grew
    to 379 acres by late Wednesday.
    One home burned as the owner and firefighters watched
    helplessly.
    "He was begging someone to put his home out," Paul Matney
    said. "These guys just wanted to charge up the driveway and save
    that house, but they couldn't do that. It was too dangerous."
    Emotional firefighters gathered Wednesday at the Trimble
    station.
    "Even if you didn't know the person it's tough to say `Your
    house is gone, we can't save it,"' Matney said. "Our chief told
    us not to look at the houses lost, look at the houses saved."
    There were numerous success stories.
    Many from the close-knit community of about 100 houses stopped
    by the station Wednesday to check on their homes or say hello to
    the firefighters.
    After Tuesday's close call, Matney said he plans to stay at the
    station until the fire is fully contained.
    "This fire is personal," he said. "It's my house, my wife and
    kids and my neighbors."

    (Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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    Post Colorado Fire Status

    The current situation:

    HAYMAN FIRE:
    Started: June 8, about 40 miles southwest of Denver in the Pike
    National Forest.
    Size: About 137,000 acres.
    Containment: 90 percent. Full containment expected by Sunday.
    Evacuations: Rocky Mountain Coordination Center reports that
    about 880 people remain under evacuation orders.
    Damage: 133 homes, one business and 484 other structures
    destroyed.
    On Scene: 1,091 personnel.
    Cause: U.S. Forest Service employee Terry Barton indicted on
    federal charges of deliberately starting fire.
    Cost: $29.9 million.

    MISSIONARY RIDGE/VALLEY FIRES:
    Started: June 9, about 10 miles north of Durango, and June 25
    about 5 miles north of Durango
    Size: 70,812 acres.
    Containment: 30 percent.
    Evacuations: About 1,161 homes evacuated. Authorities
    recommended six more subdivisions be evacuated Thursday afternoon.
    Damage: 57 homes lost, 26 structures destroyed.
    On Scene: 1,368 personnel, and several air tankers, helicopters
    and engines.
    Cause: Believed human-caused.
    Cost: $18.5 million.

    COAL SEAM FIRE:
    Started: June 8, near Glenwood Springs.
    Size: 12,209 acres.
    Containment: 90 percent.
    Evacuations: None.
    Damage: 29 homes destroyed. Four homes damaged.
    On Scene: 122 firefighters.
    Cause: A long-smoldering underground coal fire burst to the
    surface and raced through brush and trees.
    Cost: $7.1 million for firefighting, $6.4 million in home
    damage.

    MILLION FIRE:
    Started: June 19, near South Fork in the Rio Grande National
    Forest in Rio Grande County.
    Size: 9,218 acres.
    Containment: 75 percent. Full containment expected by 6 p.m.
    Saturday. Firefighters pushing vegetation back over containment
    lines to prevent erosion.
    Evacuations: Evacuation order lifted for three homes Wednesday
    night.
    Damage: 18 homes and two outbuildings destroyed.
    On Scene: 1,020 personnel.
    Cause: Spontaneous combustion of illegally-dumped sod.
    Cost: $6.4 million.

    WEST BEAVER FIRE:
    Started: Friday or Saturday, 15 miles west of Telluride near
    Lone Cone Mountain.
    Size: 515 acres.
    Containment: 40 percent. Full containment expected by July 4.
    Evacuations: None.
    On Scene: 312 firefighters.
    Cause: Lightning
    Cost: $697,000.

    PINON FIRE:
    Started: Friday, near Elk Springs, about 50 miles west of Craig.
    Size: 2,300 acres on Bureau of Land Management and state land.
    Containment: 50 percent. Full containment expected by 8 p.m.
    Saturday.
    Evacuations: None.
    On Scene: 161 personnel.
    Cause: Lightning.
    Cost: $150,000.

    SPRING CREEK FIRE:
    Started: Saturday, about 7 miles north of New Castle.
    Size: 1,250 acres.
    Containment: None.
    Evacuations: None but fire is half-mile away from triggering
    evacuation of small subdivision.
    On Scene: At least 49 personnel.
    Cause: Lightning.
    Cost: $310,000

    BEAR FIRE:
    Started: Thursday, in Dinosaur National Monument 20 miles north
    of Dinosaur. Park remains open.
    Size: 1,000 acres
    Containment: None. Expected July 1.
    On scene: 49 firefighters
    Cause: Under investigation
    Cost: $20,000

    ---
    Sources: National Interagency Fire Center, Grand Junction
    Interagency Dispatch, Craig Interagency Dispatch, Montrose
    Interagency Dispatch, Rocky Mountain Fire Coordination Center.
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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    It is raining!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Not enough, but gettting closer.

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    Unhappy More problems for the Durango area

    Onlookers clogging roads near Durango wildfire
    coderkv
    BAYFIELD, Colo. (AP) - Curious onlookers are crowding the scenic
    back roads near a massive wildfire, jamming traffic where fire
    crews are trying to move equipment and sometimes venturing into
    dangerous areas.
    "They are clogging the roads," said Cpl. Dick Mullen, fire
    command center spokesman for the La Plata County Sheriff's Office.
    "They are in an area that still has potential for something
    happening, burning and trapping them in there. So we just ask that
    - until we can get everything cooled down and we can get the
    equipment out - to stay out of there."
    The sheriff's office and Colorado National Guard troops continue
    to maintain roadblocks in much of the area, but still the
    sightseers show up.
    "This is typical not only of the Missionary Ridge Fire, but any
    time you have anything with disastrous consequences, people are so
    curious that they have to get up there and see it for themselves,"
    Mullen said.
    Joanne Spina, spokeswoman for the county's Office of Emergency
    Management, said sightseers should stay away from the 73,145-acre
    blaze, which was 75 percent contained Thursday.
    "We've got a lot of fire personnel and equipment and apparatus
    out there," Spina said. "There is still a potential for activity
    of fire, and that is one of the reasons we think it is important
    that sightseers stay away. It has the potential to impede the
    activities of fire crews."
    Firefighters also are concerned about people who want to park
    along the road to watch air operations, view the advance of the
    fire, see burned out areas or just gaze at the smoke.
    "That can be a problem. In fact, they've got stretches of road
    posted for no stopping because of that," said Pam Gardner, fire
    information officer at the fire's eastern command post in Bayfield.
    Over the weekend, a carload of young women showed up in an area
    where fire crews were working to stop the blaze, said Jeff Wallace,
    Operations Section Chief at the Bayfield command post.
    That could put not only the curious citizens at risk, but fire
    crews as well.
    "We would be in a position then where we would have to be
    making rescues and putting our personnel in unsafe situations to
    rescue those people," Gardner said.

    (Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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    Missionary fire's western side 100% contained, officials say

    July 5, 2002

    By Brian Newsome
    Herald Staff Writer

    BAYFIELD – The Missionary Ridge Fire stalled Thursday in the wake of a brief thunderstorm the day before, allowing firefighters to completely contain the west side of the fire. The entire fire is now 75 percent contained.

    "People are breathing a lot easier," said Pam Leschak, fire information officer.

    Wednesday night’s rain shower – Durango received 0.31 inch of rain – and completion of fire lines gave firefighters the confidence to call the western side of the
    Missionary Ridge Fire contained, meaning fire lines surround its entire perimeter. The moisture, along with higher humidities and lower temperatures, also helped firefighters on the eastern side, where some areas are not contained.

    Complete control of the fire, however, is not expected until heavy rains or even snow arrives.

    "There may still be smoke and activity, but it’s all inside the black," Leschak said.

    The Northern California Type II Incident Management Team arrived at the La Plata County Fairgrounds on Wednesday night and planned to completely take over the fire’s western half by Friday night. The team will be monitoring the fire and putting out hot spots, Leschak said.

    The fire grew only 13 acres Thursday to 73,145 acres. Four ranches were the only homes that remained evacuated.

    "I think people (here) are cautiously optimistic," Leschak said.

    Despite the milestone on the western side, there was little celebration.

    "I think people came home, had dinner and went to bed," she said.

    Local fire officials were concerned fireworks might spark new fires, but nothing occurred as of Thursday night, said Dave Abercrombie, spokesman for the Durango Fire & Rescue Authority.

    He said the news about containment of the west side of the fire was "fantastic."

    Leschak said, "I think things are looking pretty good. Now we’ll just keep our fingers crossed that we don’t get too much rain too quickly."

    Five outlying lightning fires were caused by Wednesday’s storm, but none was serious, according to information officials.

    Fire officials said in reports that "containment outlook is good now that some moisture was received" on the east side.

    Today’s forecast predicted humidities at 18 percent to 25 percent, in contrast to single-digit humidity levels during much of the fire, and temperatures from 72 to 88 degrees. Winds were expected to be 10 to 15 mph with 25 mph gusts.

    Also, Thursday began the first day that radiometric mapping, a new technology for detecting hot spots on the ground, would be used exclusively on the fire. Previously, officials would use infrared technology that had to be done at night after the ground cooled.

    The new system can be done during the day by helicopter. Using a Global Positioning System device, it can pinpoint the latitude and longitude of a hot spot, which firefighters can then locate with hand-held GPS units.

    The fire’s cost reached $30.7 million Thursday, with 1,662 people still assigned to the blaze.

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    *********************Update 7/6/02*****************************

    73,145 acres, (No acreage increase from 7/4/02.

    West side of fire was changed to a Type II managment team, East side of fire remains under the control of the Rocky Mountain Type I team.
    Cost to date: $33,926,160.
    Resources: 1,909 personnel, 7 Type I crews, 37 Type II crews, 21 helicopters, (10-type I, 5-type II, 6-type III), 82 engines,10 dozers, and 31 water tenders.

    Fire is 80% contained.

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    VALLECITO – Where plumes of smoke once rose above the Missionary Ridge Fire, there were dark clouds pouring columns of rain.

    About a half-inch of rain drenched the Vallecito area Wednesday afternoon, triggering mudslides and ash flows onto County Road 501, south of Vallecito Dam.

    The road, which runs along the fire’s burn area, was temporarily closed while crews worked to clear the dark silt and mud off the roadway. One mudslide crossed County Road 501 and went through Kanakuk Kamps’ softball field. Summer campers made the best of the natural disaster by sliding in the mud.

    "This could be a swift cleanup job (with a rake)," said Andy Braner, director of the camp. The children made a swift cleanup of themselves with the help of a garden hose.

    Carl Brown, who owns a ranch just south of Vallecito Dam, said he plans to create drainages around his home to divert potential floods. He already has black ash flows running through his fields in different locations, he said.


    Pete Rodriguez, of the La Plata County Road and Bridge Department, looks for a clogged drainage pipe with a shovel Wednesday next to County Road 501. Rains washed ash and debris into the area.
    "It’s kind of uncomfortable," Brown said. "I can’t help but worry."

    The afternoon rain showers have been occurring constantly for about a week at higher elevations, and are expected to continue today and Friday, said Byron Paulson, meteorologist for the fire’s incident command team.

    "The problems have just begun because you’re not in your rainy season yet," Paulson said. "It is something that will be of concern for some time."

    The total acreage of the
    Missionary Ridge and Valley fires remained at 70,662 acres Wednesday, but containment on the Missionary Ridge Fire increased to 95 percent – meaning firefighters had a line around 95 percent of the blaze.

    Full containment is expected by 6 p.m. today.

    Even though the fire has subsided, fire officials were warning people to observe burn bans and be extra cautious.

    "We’re still behind in the amount of rain we need – still in a severe drought," said Roger Miller, a spokesman for the incident command team. "It would only take a few days of dry, windy conditions to put us in the same situation we were a couple weeks ago."

    There were a couple of flare-ups inside the burn area Wednesday on the southwestern flank of the fire, and "propellers" were lowered into the steep, rocky terrain to help fight them. Propellers are similar to smoke jumpers, but use rope ladders attached to helicopters to be lowered into hard-to-reach places, said Bob Ramirez, a spokesman for the west side of the fire.

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