Showing posts with label Bent County. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bent County. Show all posts

April 13, 2022

A Big Burn Down by Bent's Old Fort

Fires everywhere in southern Colorado this week. I myself was "toned out" of bed at 2:27 a.m. yesterday, soon to be loaded into a brush truck (Type 6 engine) with three other volunteers, headed up the canyon as "mutual aid" to a grass fire running in front of 50 mph winds. 

A concentrated attack from three fire departments soon knocked it down, and after that we were just wet-lining and chasing flare-ups. 

The fire burned right up to the walls of the reconstructed trading post (National Park Service).

Meanwhile, down the Arkansas, two big fires blew up in southern Colorado, one around John Martin Reservoir and the other upstream at Bent's Fort.  This famous 1840s-1850s trading post was rebuilt on its original site in time for the 1976 American Bicentennial — now the reproduction has outlived the original. (And it has flush toilets).

Fire in cottonwood groves along the Arkansas River (La Junta Fire Dept.)

The Bent's Fort fire has burned more than 1,000 acres today.
  No threat to the fort really, and no homes lost in the area. 

“There is no threat to Bent Fort, it is being protected so I want that to be the main point. Mainly the fire has been in the river bottom, it has gotten out to some farm land but we’ve contained it off some farm land so its maintained to the river area,” [La Junta Fire] Chief Davidson said.

Funny thing, a fire like this probably would make the area around Bent's Fort look more like it did in its heyday, when the horses of trappers, traders, travelers, and visiting Cheyenne Indians no doubt nibbled all the grass and the riparian cottonwood groves were picked over for firewood. I have been told by Park Service staff that the wetland area east of the fort was not there in those days — it is a result of changing drainage patterns.

An old pole barn at Oxbow State Wildlife Area (Colorado Parks and Wildlife).
 

Across the river, much of the Oxbow State Wildife Area burned over too. It's a place where I once had a good duck hunt with my old dog Jack, and I was thinking of revisiting it with Marco this year. And maybe we will, just to see how it looks after a summer's regrowth.


Further down, another fire was burning around Fort Lyon and John Martin Reservoir. More old stomping grounds. 

The fire near Cheraw was contained Tuesday. (KOAA-TV)
 

It's time to become reacquainted with all that area, come September or October.