Since last week, the smoke and haze from the raging West Fork Fire Complex has made its way from the Wolf Creek Pass area in southwestern Colorado into parts of the Front Range. Undoubtedly, the power of Mother Nature is rather impressive, considering the distance covered in a relatively few hours of time. The smoke, its visibility and odor, has been strong mostly in the late afternoon and evening hours.
Thursday, June 20 –
Driven by strong winds, hot and dry conditions, the West Fork Fire Complex exploded in size and ferocity. Giant smoke plumes were lifted high into the sky. The sky quickly took on sickly, yellowish cast, and with each passing minute, the smoky layer became more dense. The smoke level was more dense than last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire, which was much closer to home. By early evening, small pieces of ash fell.
The smoke blanket had become quite thick, obscuring the sun for roughly 15-20 minutes.
While the smoky sky was rather featureless, on occasion, a pattern could be found.
Friday, June 21 –
While much of the day was hot and windy, the heavy smoke drifted in during the late afternoon. Within an hour’s time, a hazy, blue sky became gray and dull. The smoky odor hung in the air, its haze easily seen.
Sunday, June 23 –
Though cooler, the weekend provided a small respite from the smoke – not as thick and very little odor. The yellowish cast wasn’t as intense as the days before but still noticeable.
With a cloud deck at a higher level, the smoke layer filtered in beneath.
For the most part, the sky in the late afternoon and evening hours are more grayish in color. Towards sunset, the orange and red colors tend to increase. How much of the brighter colors that appear depends upon how dense the smoke layer has become. A less thick amount of smoke yields a more colorful sunset.
A combination of four fires, the West Fork Fire Complex continues to grow in size. Until the fire begins to weaken, we expect to see more of this in the days to come.
- Information on the West Fork Fire Complex from the Inter-agency Information Management System can be found here.
- Photos of the West Fork Fire Complex can be found here.