Black Forest Wildfire


We woke up with temperatures in the low 40’s.  But waking up to a view of the mountains might be worth a little chill.

Today started out as a typical day with the 0600 briefing.  With the help of favorable weather conditions and hard working crews re-population has started in many of the hard hit areas. 

Dave Vonbargen has been assigned to the Day Operations Chief.  Buck has 35 years of experience in wild land firefighting.  Dave accompanied the OPS Chief on an aerial reconnaissance mission this morning.  Pictures are above.

Several others were able to accompany the OPS Chief on a ground tour of one of the divisions.  It is interesting to see what fire does in this type of environment.  The OPS Chief gave us a quick a lesson on fire behavior and tracking to the point of origin. One picture above (lower right)… more to be posted tomorrow.

Our team continues to shadow in several areas.  Today the Planning Section was able to attend a training demo on a new product be offered by the Feds.  The National Interagency Fire Enterprise Geospatial Portal is a web based program that was originally designed for wild land Firefighting but has many applications for an all-hazards team.  The National Interagency Fire Center administrates this program.  Jordan and Jim will do a demo of this products for the entire team at the next training. 

With the great progress already made… a large number of assets are being DEMOB’d tomorrow.

Hopefully most if not all of our team members will get to bed a.k.a. “sleeping bag” soon.


posted Jun 24, 2013, 10:48 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 24, 2013, 10:48 AM by BCRERT Administrator ]

The team has returned home safely with a a great amount of experience and ideas from working with Harvey's Great Basin Type 1 IMT.  We're very appreciative of the opportunity to travel to this incident to work with a group of talented individuals.  Great connections were made on this trip which will benefit our communities, Butler County, Ohio, and the U.S. as well.  Following this trip the short team members that went will debrief their sections on their thoughts and ideas in order to make sure the experience is not held to one person.  

The team on Pike's Peak while studying an actively burning fire west of Denver and the remnants of the Waldo Canyon fire.  

We met some other Ohioans while on Pike's Peak and obliged them with a photo.  

Hump Day

posted Jun 19, 2013, 8:07 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 19, 2013, 8:23 AM by BCRERT Administrator ]

One more day of shadowing to go.  We watched some nasty storms swirl around us yesterday; however, the heavy stuff stayed north and east of us.  Denver International Airport was hit with a tornado during the afternoon.  



We've met some very interesting and experienced people out here both wildland firefighters and incident management folks.  Each of them has a unique story and many have been very willing to share their insights with us as we try to feverishly take notes so we can bring their experiences back home with us to apply for our departments and team.  Even though we're not members of Harvey's team that is managing the incident we're still active in day to day activities and constantly interact with its team members.  

Some of our guys out here got some much needed experience in sections that we don't always use (i.e. MEDL).  Any experience is good experience but this is excellent experience and we all will certainly come back with a new wealth of knowledge and a wealth of new contacts.  


Fire Weather Wednesday!

posted Jun 19, 2013, 7:47 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 19, 2013, 7:47 AM by BCRERT Administrator ]

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They're Here Every Night to Welcome the Crews Back to the BOO

posted Jun 18, 2013, 6:46 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 18, 2013, 6:46 AM by BCRERT Administrator ]

Today's Situation Report

posted Jun 18, 2013, 6:44 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 18, 2013, 6:44 AM by BCRERT Administrator ]

Basic Information

Incident TypeWildfire
CauseUnder Investigation
Date of OriginTuesday June 11th, 2013 approx. 02:30 PM
LocationWithin the City limits of Black Forest Colorado
Incident CommanderRich Harvey

Current Situation

Total Personnel966
Size14,280 acres
Percent Contained75%
Estimated Containment DateThursday June 20th, 2013 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved

Timber including Ponderosa Pine plus grass and Oak Shrubs

Fire Behavior

Overnight RH recoveries last night were good reaching 85%. ERCs are dropping steady and currently 84th percentile. Primary fire carrier is found in the understory duff and timber litter layers.

Significant Events

American Red Cross Disaster Assistance Teams are doing assessments within the fire perimeter. Utility crews continue assessing and securing service to residences for future re-entry. El Paso County Sheriffs office continues to do assessments within the area. Excess resources are being released as incident objectives are being met. Resources continue to mop up and secure around structures to prevent further loss.


Planned Actions

Continue to provide for life and safety as evacuations continue to be lifted. Locate and extinguish all hot spots while continuing perimeter control using direct attack as needed. Continue coordination with the utility companies, local/state/federal partners and El Paso County Sheriffs Office assessment team.

Growth Potential


Terrain Difficulty



Acreage change is due to more accurate mapping. Some residents are being allowed back to their residences. With the wet weather and successful operations fire resources are being sent home as containment objectives are met.

Current Weather

Wind Conditions30 mph NW
Temperature74 degrees

Monday's Fire Facts

posted Jun 17, 2013, 10:37 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 17, 2013, 10:51 AM by BCRERT Administrator ]

Fire Facts:

Date started: June 11, 2013

Number of Personnel: 1130

Location: Black Forest, Colorado

Crews: 17

Size: 14,280 acres

Engines: 101

Percent Contained: 65%

Estimated Containment: 06/20/2013

Dozers: 5

Water Tenders: 32

Cause: Under investigation

Helicopters: 1 Type 1 and 1 Type 3

Structures lost: 480

Injuries to Date: 1

Cost to Date: $5,555,950

Yesterday’s Events:

Firefighters again made good progress in containing the fire. Fire behavior was reduced to creeping and smoldering due to improved weather conditions. Thunderstorms brought .11 inches of precipitation to the fire area which aided firefighters in their suppression efforts. The storm also produced lightning that ignited three new fires near the Black Forest Fire which were quickly suppressed by firefighters.

Today’s Forecast and Activity

Today’s temperatures will increase slightly with a predicted high of 78 degrees. Thunderstorms will continue their pattern of entering the fire area in the early afternoon with some precipitation expected along with possible lightning activity. Fire spread is predicted to be minimal due to higher relative humidity and cool temperatures.

A continuing threat exists to structures within the fire perimeter due to the potential for extreme fire behavior from gusty winds from developing thunderstorms. The potential for re-burn from remaining hot spots within the ground fuels remains a concern. Firefighters will continue to grid the fire area for hotspots, especially around structures.

El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will continue to perform damage assessments on structures in the fire area.

Due to decreasing demands from the incident, some resources are being released and made available for response for other incidents as needed.

Monday Monday Monday...

posted Jun 17, 2013, 7:55 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 17, 2013, 8:15 AM by BCRERT Administrator ]

This morning's briefing it was announced that things are going well and many units/personnel will demobilize today.  Reoccupation of the effected areas continues to go on as does the utilities restoration.  There has been a tremendous amount of cooperation with local government, state agencies, federal entities, and private cooperators to get the effected area back to normal.  Colorado is an interesting case for delegation of authority.  Even though the lands are local/private, they cede their authority to the State of Colorado for incidents such as this.  This makes things really easy for the incident command team to come in and receive a delegation of authority for incident management and monetary management of public funds.  

Today the planning guys are spending the day with the documentation unit and situation unit.  We're also going to demo a new geospatial product for aerial reconnaissance.  The program has already produced some awesome infrared mapping of our current incident which allows the IMT to gauge effected acreage and draw the fire line more accurately.  

The incident currently has 65% containment on the fire.  Weather today will be a calm morning with atmospheric conditions changing in the four corners region (Where NM, CO, AZ, and UT come together).  Thus, this afternoon we will likely have some strong storms in the fire area which could bring gusty winds and lightning.    

First Full Day of Work

posted Jun 16, 2013, 12:15 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 16, 2013, 9:35 PM by BCRERT Administrator ]

Today was our first full day of work in our sections.  There are three of us in planning, one in logistics, one in operations, one in the medical unit, one in safety, and one liaison.  At every opportunity we are taking notes and asking questions to improve the way we do business in our shop.  Wildfire teams are a unique group that have a tremendous amount of experience.  Fortunately for us they're able to pass this on to us so we can bring it back to the all-hazards world for application at a full spectrum of incidents.  

We had members of our team all over the fire today.  Several were on the fire line, others were at the heli-base, while others were working with those that push all the information, data, weather, mapping, plans, etc out to those that are hands on with the fire.  

Fire conditions today continued to improve.  We received several bouts of rain totally .06" which is a significant "wetting" rainfall for an area like this experiencing a wildfire.  The storms were very impressive coming off of the mountains...

Can you spot the lightning?   

Then it cleared up.....
  Tomorrow should bring some more nice weather as the week gradually gets warmer and drier.  We're looking forward to another day of operations and will post more soon.  


posted Jun 15, 2013, 9:08 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 15, 2013, 9:08 PM by BCRERT Administrator ]

Our short team arrived safely into Colorado Springs this afternoon.  We were introduced to the Deputy Incident Commander Paul Broyles who gave us our in-briefing on what was going on, who we would be working with, and what we would be doing.  The team we're working with is a Type I IMT from the Great Basin.  Many are from Boise, Idaho.  They're a squared away bunch who take a lot of pride in working for the firefighters on the line who are putting the boots on the ground and fighting the fire.  

We set up our camp today on the south side of the base camp.  It was pretty funny to watch.  The sea of tents in the picture is only a fraction of those around our base camp.  There are many many more as there are close to 1000 firefighters plus overhead personnel who are being billeted here.  

The view from our camp is unreal.  It's unfortunate we're not here under better circumstances but I could definitely get used to waking up to this view...  

The fire conditions have been favorable and crews have made great progress in establishing control lines.  Re-entry of evacuated occupants has begun and more will continue tomorrow.  The weather has been very cooperative and looks to continue tomorrow.  We're watching out for a constant chance of storms but as of right now the temperature, RH, and occasional precipitation have greatly assisted fire crews.  

Tonight coming back into camp the locals have gathered at the entry point to our BOO with signs, flags, banners, etc.  They cheer loudly for every piece of fire equipment that comes in and are incredibly thankful for the service of the firefighters to their region.  It's really cool to see people reaching out to show their appreciation for the sacrifices these guys make and the risks they take.    

The guys are doing great and are settling into their positions well.  Everyone here has been very helpful to us getting settled, oriented, and organized.  Ok...Morning briefing is at 0600 Mountain Time (that's 0800 for you east coast folks).  


posted Jun 15, 2013, 8:15 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 15, 2013, 8:15 AM by BCRERT Administrator ]

After departing at 0500 with all personnel accounted for we made our layover in Minneapolis and are at 36,000 feet heading to Denver.  We are anticipating warm days and cold night with some storms possible. 

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