Horse Park Fire

28 05 2018

The first thing to know is the most important: Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs are OK.

Horse Park is immediately north of Spring Creek Basin. The Horse Park Fire started Saturday night by a lightning strike, and firefighters were on it pretty much immediately. The fire is outside the basin’s northeastern boundary and moving basically northward, pushed by strong winds from the south/southeast.

Early in the day, I was with Steve Heath (Heath Water Service) in the basin to show him the  roads. There’s a big difference in go-to-ability between his loaded water truck and my nimble Jeep, and we wanted to see where he can go with his truck to deliver water farther into the basin than the catchment when the drought situation requires it.

Good news on that front, too: Steve is confident that he can get his water truck to the places where we might set water troughs for the horses (in addition to the water catchment).

It was interesting – and a little (a lot) sobering – that while we were scouting for water locations, this fire blew up on the basin’s northeastern horizon. As of the 10 o’clock news on the Denver CBS 4 station, the Horse Park Fire was at 1,000 acres with 0 percent containment.

Following are some photos from the day:

052718horseparkfire1

Several planes were in the air all day, small planes like this one (above) and big planes like the one below:

052718airtanker2

Part of the fire was in McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area, where fire retardant is forbidden, one of the BLM fire guys told me. Once the fire moved north from the WSA, three big air tankers started dropping the familiar red material.

052718airtanker3

This is the same plane as the closer photo above, a few seconds later. Looks pretty crazy, huh?

052718choppermcktb1

At least two helicopters were carrying water buckets from what appeared to be numerous sources to sites that were burning on top of the ridge. The main feature here is McKenna Peak. Perfectly placed behind McKenna from this vantage point (the eastern end of roller-coaster ridge), Temple Butte is mostly blocked. The fire is to the left – north.

052718BLMfirefighters1

052718BLMfirefighters2

I was glad to find these guys on roller-coaster ridge, watching the fire from the basin side. Crew leader Dan was helpful with information, as was Patrick Seekins, BLM fire management officer, who called within 15 minutes of me calling dispatch in the morning to report the smoke. They had been aware of the fire and mobilizing pretty much since it started the previous night.

Unofficially, by my observations and from information given by Patrick and Dan, there was a lot of activity on this fire: a crew of smoke jumpers and a crew of hot shots; a fire team out of Norwood; BLM firefighters from Dolores; three big air tankers (resupplying in Durango, Cortez and Grand Junction, I think Dan said); at least four, maybe five, smaller planes dropping retardant; at least two helicopters carrying water buckets; at least one aircraft coordinating all the others (there were a lot of “birds” in the sky!).

Here’s a link to an article about the Durango Air Tanker Base in The Durango Herald. Planes like the one pictured with the article definitely were flying above the Horse Park Fire and dropping retardant.

It is incredibly dry out there in this land of no rain. Really, really, REALLY dry. This is not the first fire in the region, and it won’t be the last.

Fire restrictions are in place pretty much everywhere. PLEASE be super careful.

S'aka, Horse Park Fire

I asked Dan to please pass along to his colleagues the thanks of Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs and their human admirers. 🙂 There seems to be very little chance that the fire will burn down into the basin, but it’s close enough to raise the anxiety level.

The mustangs are in good shape – living in the moment, doing what they do. 🙂

P.S. Happy Memorial Day. It is a day to remember the service of others! Thankfully, those in my family who served their country came home. Today, we remember and honor those who did not make it home to their loved ones.

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5 responses

28 05 2018
Maggie Frazier

Thank heavens you and yours are all safe and ok. Hate to hear about fires out there again – I know its dry – as I’ve said before – wish I could send you some of our moisture. Its almost June 1st & I’ve finally managed to mow the lawn – much longer & we could hay it!!!
Stay safe

28 05 2018
TJ

We’d sure take some rain from wet places if we could finagle the weather gods to handle that for us. It’s crazy dry. The fire wasn’t an “if,” it was a when. And there are going to be more. … Thank you for your well wishes!

28 05 2018
Pat

My goodness, what excitement so close to the precious Basin and the horses.

29 05 2018
Sue Story

😦 We all knew it was inevitable…but still. I am always so thankful for those firefighters and their truly heroic efforts, and on this one, I am thankful too that you and the mustangs are safe, TJ.

29 05 2018
Marytherese Ambacher

Thank you TJ for update. Thank you for your important relationships developed over the years who help you advocate for the beautiful wild surroundings and wonderful mustangs! Thoughts for all your safety.

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