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Wild fire operations in Colorado initial attack is usually on the ground as local fire crews make an assessment of the fire and attempt to establish fire lines
All photographs copyright Larry Ledwick
Initial notification of an active fire is often the sudden development of a large smoke plume over the mountains west of the Denver Metro area.
A plume like this indicates a large fire but lack of strong vertical development suggests the fire is growing at a moderate pace.
This was the appearance of the 4 mile canyon fire early afternoon of 9/6/2010.
An example of a more rapidly growing fire is this image of the smoke plume generated by the High Park fire
west of FortCollins as it rapidly developed on the morning of 6/09/2012
At the Indian Gulch fire just north of Lookout Mountain, the first fire fighter into the fire, does a quick recon and assessment to help plan the initial attack
The first ground attack crew begins its long hike into the fire line on very rugged steep terrain
The crews begin to cut fire line along the base of the burn area. This is extremely dangerous terrain with lots of loose rock and steep slopes.
Fire fighters need to watch the slope above them for rolling rocks coming down on them and also avoid kicking loose rocks on their team members.
Once they have anchored this area of the fire line and created a safe retreat route they can begin to attack the heavier brush and trees.
To quickly check the spread of the fire a huey helicopter begins water bucket drops
dipping from a nearby lake to keep the fire
from threatening the residential development just east of the fire.