^^^ Great news! Looks like WC will be spared this time.
West Fork Complex Fire- Wolf Creek Ski Area in Danger - Page 5
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More good news- the pass is scheduled to reopen Saturday. It has been closed since last Thursday.
Great news Indeed!!
More good news. We have actual clouds, bearing actual moisture overhead. It looks like it may very well be raining over the fire area. Even if it doesn't rain, the humidity and cloud cover should do a lot to calm things down.
My non-expert read on the fire at this point is that it is probably controlled to the point where Creede and South Fork are probably going to be spared. Amazingly, no structure damage reported yet.
The evacuation for South Fork has been lifted, and the pass reopened with state trooper staging vehicles. Great news.
The past few days, the wind has shifted and the fire has been expanding to the West. It has found more to burn there, but it is also burning in a wilderness area where there aren't any structures to worry about. The wind shift brought severe smoke to Pagosa Springs, Bayfield, and Durango. I live North of Bayfield, and we woke up at 3 AM yesterday with visible smoke in the house. It was a scary moment trying to figure out if this was a new fire or blown-in smoke.
We have had very limited scattered showers. Scary because the past few days we have heard thunder but have no rain.
Real rain is in the forecast, which should sew this one up for good.
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Really nice storms last night dropped significant moisture on a decent chunk of the state, including a bit around the fires. It looks like it's setting up for more storms this evening.
Safe from flames, towns like Creede fear economy still could take hit
CREEDE — A year ago, this town of 400 permanent residents stood ready for its Hollywood close-up, financially flush from a star turn as prime location for a blockbuster film.
Yet in the background loomed the Rio Grande National Forest, tainted brown with beetle-kill pine. And when wildfires erupted earlier this month, they carried a cruel plot twist: Although the flames so far have spared homes and human life here, they threaten to wreak havoc on the town's economic fortunes even from miles away.
"Fear became manifest," said Eric Grossman, proprietor of Jicky Jacks Cafe and mayor of Creede. "We've been staring at that dead timber for a long time. We knew this was just a lightning bolt away."
The fires, yes. But their economic impact seemed less clear until several days ago. Grossman marked his rising angst on the cafe's cash-register tape, where he noted major plumes of smoke from blazes to the southwest and southeast June 19 and 20, and the evacuation of the town of South Fork, 22 miles to the southeast, just a day later.
Creede, well shielded from the three fires now called the West Fork Complex by topography that features natural fire breaks, nonetheless felt quick repercussions when authorities limited access to highways that carry tourists to town and closed the surrounding wilderness areas that serve as the region's enormous natural playground.
Proprietors of everything from RV parks to guest ranches to tiny bed-and-breakfast operations flinched whenever the phone would ring, likely as not carrying news of another cancellation. The streets and sidewalks, normally bustling with seasonal visitors, now feature small knots of locals commiserating over such a drastic turn of events from just a year earlier.
Back then, the filming of "The Lone Ranger" brought in unprecedented revenuefrom March through May with the arrival of about 400 crew members who created a massive set in the rock canyon just past the north end of town. Then came stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, adding sizzle to the cash flow.
By the Fourth of July, the massive celebration that brings upward of 10,000 people and marks the kickoff of high season, prospects couldn't have been much better for businesses that generally must earn enough in three months to carry them through the slow offseason.
Now, with the Fourth looming only days away and the haze from the West Fork Complex hanging intermittently like a pall over the historic downtown, everyone from the nationally acclaimed Creede Repertory Theatre to small, family-owned ventures has scrambled to plot a path through the hard times ahead.
And even though Creede remains open for business, and not in pre-evacuation mode as earlier reports claimed, the mayor notes that the fires have left fewer reasons for folks to visit.
"We have to call it what it is," Grossman said. "This is a disaster."
In the cafe he has temporarily shut down, he pulled out a handwritten declaration calling the situation just that. He hopes the document, coupled with similar declarations from neighboring towns affected by the fires, will facilitate possible state financial help.
At a meeting last week in the high school gym, authorities explained their strategy of protecting assets such as homes and crucial infrastructure — but otherwise letting the fires take their course through the mountainous terrain.
And that course could run for months.
"I've got three words," said Jennie Sneed, part owner of Cafe Olé on the town's main street. "It's pure hell."
At Cafe Olé, that means going into "winter mode," the cost-saving posture that year-round businesses assume to get through the lean months.
"You cut expenses, cut inventory, turn the lights off where you can," she said. "It's nothing new to us. You just stay on winter mode until you get through."
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Read more:Safe from flames, towns like Creede fear economy still could take hit - The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_23569288/safe-from-flames-towns-like-creede-fear-economy#ixzz2XhhOgKNl
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Posts about the firefighters who perished in Arizona have been moved to their own thread.
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Safe from flames, towns like Creede fear economy still could take hit
... Although the flames so far have spared homes and human life here, they threaten to wreak havoc on the town's economic fortunes even from miles away.....
Definitely a fact that some tourists will change decisions based on news of things like this. It should be noted that a lot of the recreation in some of these areas is relatively unaffected by any fire unless people are physically forced to leave. E.g., some of the best fishing in the general area in this case ain't gonna be affected one bit.
3+ years down the road, the wildlife population, and hunting and nature-watching, will also be way up, because of fire's beneficial effects on the ecosystem overall. Some of the recent fires will hopefully help aspen stands regenerate in some places -- aspen are kinda dependent on fires to keep from getting pushed out by conifers. Basically, anyone considering travel shouldn't be deterred by current or past fire unless there is some very specific reason like current hiking or similar plans being disrupted by current fires.
We drove over Wolf Creek pass a few weekends ago for Father's day, right when the West Fork first kicked off. At that point, flames were visible from the road. Further up towards the ski area, my wife and I were really surprised how many more trees were brown and dead even compared to last year- apparently once the snow melted they gave up the ghost and died. It looked a lot like the Winter Park area before they started thinning stuff (I haven't been up there in a few years, so I don't know how it looks now that they have started cutting the beetle kill).
But yeah, a lot of Colorado has gotten really lucky that more of these stands of dead timber haven't gone up in the last decade- standing deadwood makes for nasty fire risk even in wet years...
So .. I drove up this way today, and I too was shocked at how many trees were dead. It's worse than Grand County was, imo. It's no wonder that fire exploded like it did.
Anyway, I was thinking about this thread, of course. Tried to take some photos of the burned areas, and how close they were to South Fork etc, but they didn't come out through the bug smears on the windshield. I'm glad the town is still there, though ;-)
Yeah. Here is what Wolf Creek had to say about the fire and beetle kill (emphasis mine)
Wolf Creek deals with the Spruce Bark Beetle:
The Spruce Bark Beetle has been devastating to Wolf Creek Pass. Wolf Creek identifies that this outbreak is a natural process, and accepts that a dramatic change to our existing landscape is unavoidable. The ski area anticipates that the infestation and its ensuing fires are inevitable. This summer, over 100,000 acres burned in the wildfire of the West Fork Complex, of which Wolf Creek Ski Area’s special use permit is adjacent to. Although there are no good solutions to this immense problem, Wolf Creek skiers and snowboarders should be aware of the beetle-kill issue and avoid running over saplings and smaller treetops.
Currently, Wolf Creek works with the US Forest Service by removing hazard trees and identifying trees for fire reduction, i.e. fire hazard reduction.
Wolf Creek continues to remove hazard trees at its own expense with hired aerial cranes; these helicopters ensure that the sensitive terrain is minimally disturbed. Tree removal is also done with snow-cats before the snow-melt is over. The most hazardous trees are identified and removed. Currently Wolf Creek estimates that 95 to 100 percent of all mature Engelmann Spruce will be lost during this natural process.
Of course, I read this and realized that I never really noticed how many Spruce trees are inbounds, but seeing how much of the forest has died in the area, I think they are probably talking about most/all of the trees. Yikes.
NM is having the same issues with the bark beetles and my hometown ski area (Ski Apache) had a huge burn in a beetle kill area last year. It is sad to see our forests going from green to red then black but mother nature is not happy with our fire policies.