This is the Denver Post’s wildfire liveblog page.  The Black Forest fire is now at 15,702 acres burned; 379 homes are a total loss, the most in Colorado history; 38,000 people and 13,000 homes evacuated.  Since the two deaths, names still withheld, the El Paso County Sheriff’s office has opened a criminal investigation. 

The two dead were found in a garage, door open, with their car’s trunk open with packed possessions inside.  Tragically, it appears that the fire overcame them too quickly to make their escape.  It’s being called the worst Colorado fire ever, but that’s not acreage burned, it refers to the number of houses (they say homes; I don’t care for the term.)

About a dozen miles south, the Waldo fire destroyed 347 houses northwest of Colorado Springs.

When our daughter, who lives with her family in C. Springs called yesterday, she said volunteers had mobilized a tremendous effort to save pets, horses, and other animals in the area.  Estimated containment date of the fire is June 20.

About a week earlier, a major roiling dust storm, or haboob (from the Arabic) (h/t juliania) hit eastern Colorado near Lamar (photo and links here).  Reminding plains dwellers of the Dust Bowl days, they pray for rain.  This was the seventh such storm since November.  After the storm had passed, one couple opened the door to find three foot dust-drifts; it took them two days with tractors to move the dirt. 

Given that this only mid-June, and for most areas it going to be a long, hot, and dry summer, I thought you might be interested in links to national fire websites.

For the first couple days, local firefighters aided by the National Guard first battled the fire. Now that federal fire management teams have entered the picture, this page shows up when you click on the Black Forest Fire link, for instance.  Try not to mind the spelling (smile):

The Black Forest Fire started on Tuesday, June 11. The cause is undertermined. It is located in the northeast section of Colorado Springs, within the city limits. Rich Harvey’s Great Basin Type 1 Incident Management Team took over management of the fire on Wednesday at 6 a.m.

This wind driven fire moved very quickly the first day and destroyed aproximately 360 structures and also caused the immediate evacuation of several thousand residents. Assessment of structures is ongoing and will be updated when additional information is available. There are numerous interagency resources assigned to the fire with others arriving daily.

Basic Information

Incident Type

Wildfire

Cause

Under Investigation

Date of Origin

Tuesday June 11th, 2013 approx. 02:30 PM

Location

Within the City limits of Black Forest Colorado

Incident Commander

Rich Harvey

Current Situation

Total Personnel

800

Size

15,702 acres

Percent Contained

5%

Estimated Containment Date

Thursday June 20th, 2013 approx. 12:00 AM

Fuels Involved

Timber including Ponderosa Pine plus grass and Oak Shrubs

Fire Behavior

Fire behavior consisted of active burning throughout the night within the perimeter. There was a significant wind event at 3 a.m. that caused the fire to run. Active fire was mostly ground fuels with interior single and group tee torching.

Significant Events

Great Basin Type 1 team assumed command of the incident at 6 AM this morning. Thunderstorm development late in the afternoon led to further evacuations and a special weather announcement for the incident

Outlook

Planned Actions

Continue to anchor, flank and pinch where fire and terrain allow. Continue structure protection and maintain evacuations

Growth Potential

Extreme

Terrain Difficulty

Medium

Remarks

Federal State Local and Military resources

Current Weather

Wind Conditions

30 mph SE

Temperature

85 degrees

Humidity

17%

At the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) you can find information from a wider angle.  If you click on Fire Information, then on Maps under Multimedia, then click Large Fire Map, you’ll see a page with US fire maps, and can choose among continental US, Alaska or Hawaii, with info and further links.  Today’s map shows the highest concentrations of fires in New Mexico and Colorado; the color key shows which levels of Incident Management Teams are on the various fires.

Last year at the end of July, I stuck up a similar Fire Information diary, and ended up…blogging our own wildfire.  It won’t happen this time.  Other pop-up fires may start from the dry lightning we had last night, but the mountain to the east of us has burned brown from three separate fires in the past six years.

Added:  I just received an email from a friend who was upset that my husband and I might be in danger again when he saw this post.  I apologize for not saying that this fire is far from us, and on the other side of the Continental divide.  And while I’m adding, I’d like to thank everyone who helped us get through our own wildfire last year by way of comments on those threads with jokes, encouragement, and so on.  It was all very grounding and helpful.  Thank you.