High temperatures, low humidity and strong wind fueled an early and aggressive start to the 2013 fire season in the Western United States. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flew over the region on June 11 and captured this true-colored image of fires burning in Colorado and New Mexico. From north to south, the fires in Colorado include Big Meadow Fire, the Black Forest Fire, and Royal Gorge Fire. In New Mexico the Thompson Ridge Fire lies to the west, and the Tres Lagunas to the east.
In Colorado, the Royal Gorge fire was first reported at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 11 south of the Royal Gorge Bridge and Arkansas River, west of Canon City. After an intense battle, Inciweb reported the fire 100% contained at 6 p.m. on Sunday June 16. It consumed 3,218 acres of Pinon-Juniper and sage brush.
The Black Forest Fire also ignited on June 11, and the cause is under investigation. It began in the northeast section of Colorado Springs, and spread vigorously, blown by strong wind. By June 13, this fire had already been declared the most destructive in the state’s history, after destroying 360 homes and damaged 14 more. The Waldo Canyon Fire, previously the most destructive, burned 346 homes.
On June 16, Inciweb reported that 473 structures had been destroyed by the Black Forest Fire, and several thousand residents remained evacuated from the danger area. The fire has consumed 15,500 acres of timber and grass, and was only 65% contained. Two people were killed by the flames. The risk of extreme fire behavior still exists, depending in large part on the whim of the fueling winds.