Colorado’s Hayman Fire: 10 Years Later

The Hayman fire was originally sparked on June 8, 2002 by a forestry worker who was distraught over a failed relationship. She reportedly was burning love letters from her estranged husband during a Total Burn Ban due to a Red Flag Warning from the National Weather Service. Because of the extremely dry conditions, an overabundance of fuel, high temperatures and high winds, the fire quickly raged out of control.  These are the same conditions as existed on June 23, 2012 when the Waldo Canyon Fire (blog post) began.

Hayman Fire Burn Area: Ten Years Later
Wildfire Mitigation Works!

Until the recent High Park Fire near Ft. Collins this year, the Hayman Fire was the most destructive in the state’s history. The High Park Fire took that title, until last Tuesday, June 26, 2012, when the Waldo Canyon Fire raged its way out of control into the Mountain Shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs. So, the Hayman Fire, thankfully, remains the largest, at more than 138,000 acres, while the Waldo Canyon Fire now has the dubious distinction of being the most destructive fire in Colorado history to date with more than 345 houses destroyed and two fatalities reported so far.

Hayman Fire Burn Area: Ten Years Later
Wildfire Mitigation Works!

On Tuesday morning, June 26, 2012, after voluntarily evacuating to the mountain town of Woodland Park over the weekend, it seemed firefighters had gained the upper hand on the Waldo Canyon Fire. And with the addition of C-130 MAFFS aircraft from Peterson Air Force Base, it seemed it would be OK to return to Colorado Springs and try to get back to a normal routine. Due to the closure of Highway 24, the narrow highway that connects Woodland Park to Colorado Springs, because of the Waldo Canyon Fire, what is normally an 18 mile drive through Ute Pass became a 150 mile detour north through the mountain town of Deckers, and on to Denver, before turning south on I-25 to Colorado Springs. It was 110 degrees when arriving in Denver … not Las Vegas … Denver!

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Photos in this gallery show the Hayman Fire burn area, ten years later. Today, there are still few live trees in the burn area. And the few houses photographed for this gallery clearly demonstrate how important, and successful, wildfire mitigation can be! Without an aggressive reforestation program, this is what the northwest side of Colorado Springs could look like ten years from now.

Fly Fishing on the South Platte River
Fly Fishing on the South Platte River

The photo of a fly fisherman in the South Platte River just north of Deckers show that even in the midst of devastation, life goes on.

Wildfire Mitigation Resources:

Production Notes: Photographed with a Nikon D300, two Nikkor lenses were used for this shoot, a 24x120mm zoom and 80x400mm zoom.

Photos and Text are © 2012 Lee Roth / Roth Stock Digital Media – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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