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Friday June 21st 2013 9:08am MDT

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The fires continue across Colorado with no chance of rain in sight. The largest fire is actually comprised of two fires near Wolf Creek Ski Area: The West Fork fire and the smaller Windy Pass fire, which is an imminent threat to the ski area.  Open this map in Google Earth to see the location of the Windy Pass fire compared to Wolf Creek. As of Friday morning, I have not heard of any buildings being damaged at Wolf Creek, and let's hope it stays that way.

Here are a few user submitted images of the fire from yesterday. This is from Pagosa Springs looking east. The clouds on top of the smoke plume are called pyro-cumulus clouds and they likely extend higher than 20,000+ feet into the sky.

Plume

These pictures were taken from east of the fire looking west. The first one is from east of Del Norte, CO, and the second was taken from Del Norte, CO. As of late Thursday night, highway 160 was closed between South Fork and Pagosa Springs. 

Del norte 1

Del norte 2

Winds will continue to be a problem through the weekend, then they will lessen toward the middle of next week. However the middle and end of next week will likely be even hotter and drier than this week. Winds are a big problem, though, so if they settle down, hopefully that will help fire fighters.

Keep in mind that these fires in southwest Colorado and most of the other fires burning in the state were caused by lightning. While it's tough to see the forest burn and of course I don't want anyone to get hurt and would like to see very little property damage, lightning caused fires are a natural thing in the dry areas of the western US and they are a part of forest health. This is nature's way of destruction and rebirth.

JOEL GRATZ

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