Summer's almost over (and fire season is here)


Yowch. It's hot out and it's dry and it's smoky. Often, in this part of Colorado, the end of August marks the tail end of the wet monsoon season. This year, the monsoons were rather feeble, if they arrived at all, and during the last two weeks we've experienced some of our hottest days of the summer. Apparently, the same fire-friendly weather has been hitting points further West, too. Currently, at least 20 "large incident" fires are burning in the West, with the most, and the most severe, in California. Los Angeles' edge is currently getting singed.

The news and images from L.A. is harrowing, sometimes tragic: Two fire fighters were killed in a vehicle accident while battling the Station Blaze. Several houses have burned and thousands more are threatened. And as of this afternoon, the Mt. Wilson observatory and communication towers was in the path of the flames, which had charred more than 105,000 acres.

That's just the biggest fire in California. A handful of others, from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada near Sacramento, back down to the southlands are also threatening homes. Further east, a fire near Payson, Ariz., forced the evacuation of some 500 homes. More than 300 homes were evacuated near New Harmony, Utah, thanks to a lightning-caused blaze. Active fires were reported in Oregon, Washington, Montana and Colorado, as well.

Keep up with the latest on the fires here:

InciWeb gives a quick, up to the minute overview of current fires (Click on the fire's name in the left-handed column for specifics on that particular fire).

The L.A. Now blog has the latest developments of the L.A. area fires.

NASA has amazing satellite images of the fire and smoke.

The Sacramento Bee's "The Frame" photo blog has incredible images of that state's fires.



Forest Fires
Ed Quillen
Ed Quillen
Sep 02, 2009 12:01 PM
    One benefit to living in a high desert spot like Salida, Colo., is clear air. On most mornings, the sky seems so transparent that I feel as though I could count the rocks on 14,421-foot Mt. Harvard, a good 40 miles away.

    And when I can't because the sky is hazy, it means there's a big forest fire somewhere. But where? Sometimes I can make an intelligent guess; if the haze is thick to the southwest but thin elsewhere, it generally means some hot times around Durango.

    But the current haze appears to blur equally in all directions, so I can't tell where it's coming from. Reading the papers doesn't help.

    According to the local Mountain Mail this morning, "Western flow of air brings Utah smoke to valley," and the California cloud isn't expected until tomorrow.

    But the Denver Post front-page headline tells us that "L.A. fire colors Colo.," which means the Golden State's murk is already here, along with some Beehive State smoke.

    Not that it matters all that much here where the smoke came from, but it does give an ominous feel to what is normally our most pleasant season, late summer and early fall, and adds to the worry that "the fire next time" might be in one of our dry, jumbled forests.