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2018: A year of fire and ice in Southern Colorado

Posted at 6:17 PM, Dec 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-26 20:17:08-05

SOUTHERN COLORADO – Devastation from natural disasters was extensive in Southern Colorado during 2018.

This has been a year with several weather events like never before. We’ve seen fires, floods, and even heard talk of drought.

A no joke fire sparked in early April in Eastern Pueblo County near Boone. The Double Fork Fire burned more than 800 acres, forced evacuations, and injured one person.

More flames arose later that month when a dragging exhaust pipe likely caused the 117 Fire along I-25 at the Southern end of El Paso County. Wind pushed the flames dangerously fast over 43,000 acres of grassland. 17 homes burned, as well as a number of barns and sheds. All totaled, 36 structures were lost.

The Spring Creek Fire started in June and dwarfed other Colorado fires, burning just over 108,000 acres and more than 140 homes. Conditions were so dry, that firefighters face unique and rare fire behavior. A man who was cooking with burning trash was arrested for starting the fire that burned from Costilla County over the mountains into Huerfano County.

At the same time the Spring Creek Fire was burning, the High Chateau Fire burned around 1,400 acres in Teller County and destroyed eight homes. Three young men were charged with arson for leaving a campfire burning a burn ban in the county.

Evidence of dry conditions showed in the Arkansas River during the summer. The water was so low at times that special releases from reservoirs were negotiated to supplement water flow for recreation and tourism.

In what seemed like a contradiction to the rest of the year, several storms also battered Southern Colorado. Summer downpours led to flooding, washouts, and mudslides in communities like Green Mountain Falls, and multiple violent hail storms pounded Southern El Paso County.

Fountain also got hit with hail in June. Hundreds of home were left with holes, and numerous cars were totaled by the hail. Then another round came in June. Fountain was again hit hard, and they weren’t the only ones. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was packed one day when a storm hit and people were sent running from baseball-sized hail. There was an emergency evacuation, people and animals injured, displays damaged, and hundreds of cars were destroyed in the parking lot.

2018 was truly a year of fire and ice in Southern Colorado.