The Papoose Fire - 2 Years Later

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog on another site about a wildfire that was burning in southern Colorado called the "Papoose Fire" and it was part of the West Fork Complex fire. All told, it burned 109,000 acres and is one of the largest wildfires in Colorado state history. This after is particularly sentimental for me because my family owns a cabin outside of Creede, CO and the Papoose Fire was very close to burning our cabin and several others. Thankfully, the heroic efforts of wildland forest firefighters and helicopters saved over 100 structures from burning. In fact, the only structure that was burned was an isolated pumphouse. 

The Papoose Fire exploded one day in June of 2013 and local photographer Michael Underwood captured some terrifying images of the fire. On the image below, you are looking toward my family's cabin. 

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Now two years later, I haven't had a chance to visit the area since before the fire and planned a long weekend trip to the area to look at the impact the fire had on the region. The first and most immediate impact was looking at the charred forest. Black stalks of trees stand where large pine trees once stood, there is no longer any old growth or underbrush. The second impact was the size, the Papoose Fire burned over 48,000 acres by itself and seeing the scope of that size is hard to imagine. I stood at the opposite end of the valley and looked out at the burn scar, and it still was larger than I would have imagined. The third impact was somewhat surprising, the amount of aspen trees and wildflowers growing beside the charred pine trees. I walked through what used to be a forest, and was surprised at the beauty of the forest, even in its current state. 

You can see more photos of the area in my 2015 Collection gallery on my website, as well as purchased prints or license images. What a difference a couple of years can make after such a devastating wildfire!