Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Colorado's Lower North Fork Fire Completely Uncontained

The Lower North Fork Fire, which started Monday, continues to burn. It has burned over 4,500 acres and is not contained at all.

The two dead have been identified as an elderly couple. There is also an adult female missing, who is known to live within the fire area. Sixteen homes have burned down, with another seven having been damaged.

Over two hundred fire fighters are on the front lines, battling the fire. Earlier attempts to begin suppressing the fire had to be called off, due to the erratic behavior of the fire. Methods have returned to defending buildings from the flames. More fire fighters are expected to join soon. Hot Shot crews are on the way from Arizona, South Dakota, and Utah.

Thanks to calmer winds today air power has been being used against the fire. A SEAT (Single Engine Air Tanker) and a Heavy P2V Tanker have been dropping retardant, as well as two National Guard helicopters, from Buckley Air Force Base, who have been dropping water.

Over 1,000 homes have already been evacuated, with 6,500 more being put on pre-evacuation notice. Areas that have been warned include: City View, Hilldale Pines, Deer Creek Mesa, Deer Creek Canyon Park, White Deer Valley, Homewood Park, Murphy Gulch, Jennings Road, South Turkey Road, South Deer Creek Canyon Road, Jennings Road, and Watson Gulch.

Chatfield and Conifer High Schools had been being used as evacuation locations. That however is changing as Conifer High School is being retasked as the command center, and Chatfield High School is being taken off the list.. Evacuees are being moved to West Jefferson Middle School. Animals are still being evacuated to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

An Air Quality Advisory is still in place for the entire metro area. This will likely not be lifted for a few days. Smoke levels are too high due to the continued burning. A Burn Ban is also in effect for, unincorporated Arapahoe County (Includes Cherry Creek State Park and Centennial), Boulder County, Golden, Englewood, and Denver Mountain Parks.

Jefferson County has created a Google map which shows some of the location information. Listed are evacuation spots, road closures, the original evacuation area, and the fire lines (though the lines have not been updated since 23:00 MDT Monday).

View Lower North Fork Wildfire in a larger map

Popcorn Contains More AntiOxidants Than Fruit

Researchers at the University of Scranton have released findings on the healthiness of popcorn.

They found that one serving of popcorn has around 300 milligrams of antioxidants, which is nearly double the 160 milligrams found in the average serving of fruit.

Popcorn has been considered a good diet food for a long time due to it's low amount of calories. Microwave popcorn though, has twice as many calories as air popped.

Due to the additives, buttered popcorn, and movie theater popcorn is even less healthy than plain.

So keep eating that popcorn, and help yourself enjoy a healthy life.

World's First Diamond Ring

Shawish Jewelers out of Switzerland has announced the world's first ever, fully diamond ring. No metals of any sort are involved in it. It is purely diamond.

Mohamed Shawish, president of Geneva-based Shawish Jewellery said, "A ring made entirely of a faceted diamond has always seemed like a fantasy. To create the perfect diamond ring is the epitome of art." He added that it took over a year to get the copyright for the design, and that a special laser was needed to cut it.

The 150 ct. diamond ring is expected to bring in at least $68 million when sold. If auctioned it could make double that.

Remembering: Thomas Jefferson's Election to the Continental Congress

March 27, 1775 Virginia elects Thomas Jefferson to the second Continental Congress. He quickly made a name for himself, publishing such papers as A Summary View of the Rights of British America and Drafts and Notes on the Virginia Constitution.

When the Congress was ready to form a committee to discuss independence from England, Jefferson was put on it, and then asked to write the declaration. It took him but days, and the committee approved it almost in it's entirety, making subtle changes to the wording.

A Declaration by the Representatives in General Congress Assembled was presented to Congress on June 28, 1776. On July 4 it was approved under a new name, The Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson would continue to write and publish documents, including a bill establishing religious freedom within the new country. He would become the United States' first secretary of state, vice president to it's second President, and finally it's third President, under the Constitution.

He died, at the age of eighty-three on July 4, 1826. Fifty years to the day after the signing of The Declaration of Independence.

Al Qaeda and Iran Active in Yemen

The United States envoy to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein, was quoted as saying that Iran is working with rebels in Northern Yemen, to destabilize the area, and further grow Iran's influence. "The Iranians want to build influence in Yemen. Both internally and more broadly in the region by establishing a foothold in the Arabian Peninsula."

He continued, "There is evidence that Hezbollah and Hamas support this Iranian effort. We are aware of a southern Yemeni presence in Beirut that has been used as a conduit for Iranian support for obstruction in southern Yemen."

Feierstein also pointed out that al Qaeda is invading the south of Yemen. Pointing out reasons for the US to continue to back, stabilize, and help the government of Yemen. "If we solve some of the political problems that created chaos in the Yemeni military, we will have improved the possibility of succeeding in our initiatives against al Qaeda."

Also adding that the US was already involved there, when questioned about possible US drone strikes against southern rebels. "I can say that we are working closely with the security institutions of the Yemeni government regarding counter-terrorism initiatives, specifically those aimed at defeating al Qaeda."

2 Dead From Colorado Wild Fire

The Lower North Fork Fire, which started Monday, has claimed it's second victim. Authorities are not releasing any information on the deaths other than that they occurred. It is thought that they are people who refused evacuation orders.

Sixteen homes have been confirmed lost at this point. So far the fire has claimed over 4,500 acres, and continues to grow. There is no time table yet for containment.

Around 500 firefighters are expected to be fighting the fire by the end of the day. Ground crews have been able to begin suppression efforts from the purely protection roles that they had been stuck with. Hot Shot crews are in route from Utah, South Dakota, and Arizona.

Air crews have joined the fight and are doing what they can, as intermittent winds hamper their efforts. A heavy P2V airplane has been dropping fire retardant over the fire. Two National Guard helicopters, capable of dropping water, are on the way from Buckley Air Force Base.

Evacuations are still in place for nearly 1,000 homes, with many others still told to be ready to get out. The metro area is still under an Air Quality Advisory, and that is not likely to be lifted as long as the fire is still growing.

Jefferson County earlier created a map to show the extent of the fire area, but it has not been updated since 23:00 MDT Monday. It does show evacuation points, and road block locations as well.

View Lower North Fork Wildfire in a larger map

Lower North Fork Fire

The Lower North Fork fire, which started Monday, continued to burn throughout the night, burning down as many as twenty five homes. As of late Monday night, one fatality has been confirmed, though no further information has been released yet.

Over 3,000 acres have burned so far, leading to the evacuation of nearly 1,000 homes. Those numbers could easily climb. Jefferson County has asked all nearby residents, north of the fire and south of Highway 285, to be ready to evacuate if the winds return and push the fire further.

Around 100 firefighters battled the blaze throughout the night. They are expected to be joined by at least 450 more throughout Tuesday. Air support is available, and will be flying for as long as winds allow.

Firefighters have mostly been working on structure protection, but there are worries that it is headed towards state parks, where animals such as snakes, bears, and mountain lions may pose a threat to the firefighters. If the fire continues it's march north and east, greater numbers of homes will also be threatened, as it heads into more densely populated parts of the Denver metro.

An Air Quality Advisory remains in effect for the Denver metro area. Authorities say if visibility is less than 5 miles in smoke in your neighborhood due to a wildfire or controlled burn, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy. If smoke is thick or becomes thick in your neighborhood it's recommended you stay indoors. This is especially important for people with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young, and the elderly.

Jefferson County has created a Google map to show where the fire is known to be and been, location of roadblocks, evacuation points, and other information as well.

View Lower North Fork Wildfire in a larger map