Beaver Creek Fire In Colorado Heats Up

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team.

July 13, 2016 – The Beaver Creek fire which is located 24 miles north of Walden, Colorado, erupted on June 19, 2016 under unknown circumstances. At present the fire has grown to almost 20,000 acres in size. As of July 12, and in spite of strong winds on the 11th, the fire’s footprint has not changed much and no new immediate threats were reported.

A Red Flag Warning was issued today for warm, dry, and windy conditions beginning at 10 a.m. through 10:00 p.m. The fire continues to advance slowly in the beetle killed trees. The winds have created a hazard for fire crews as they down the infested trees. Crews remain out ahead of the fire’s path prepared to engage the fire when it moves out of the heavy timber into aspen stands, sagebrush, and grass; where firefighters have a higher probability of success and less risk.

For the safety of firefighters, the Incident Management Team is allowing the natural process of the fire to occur while focusing their resources protecting structures. This strategy provides for both firefighter safety and the protection of life and property.

This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on July 12, 2016. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.

The vantage point of space is becoming increasingly important for enhancing firefighter and public safety. Timely, high-quality data from NASA-funded satellite-based tools can better detect fires national and help responders track rapidly changing fire behavior.

Wildfires in the United States burn an average of 7 million acres of land each year. For the last 10 years, the USFS and Department of Interior have spent a combined average of about $1.5 billion annually on wildfire suppression. Large catastrophic wildfires have become commonplace, especially in association with extended drought and extreme weather. Colorado has been extremely vulnerable due to large stands of dry timber created by beetles, which have devastated huge swaths of forest.