High Park Fire aftermath plagues Poudre Canyon with flash floods and mudslides

The Poudre Canyon Fire Protection District organized an effort July 7 to protect homes in Poudre Park and nearby Falls Gulch from a repeat of the previous day’s flash flood that carried soot-blackened torrents through parts of the community.

Because the High Park Fire destroyed forests and vegetation that normally would capture rain, flash floods and mud slides have occurred along the Poudre River and in nearby areas. This has happened since June 30 when the annual Southwest Monsoon began making daily visits to northern Colorado, providing heavy downpours or steady rains in the late afternoons and into the evenings.

This is how it looked July 7 along the highway in Poudre Park as residents and others filled 2,000 sandbags to protect homes from flash flooding. More photos can be found at the end of this blog. Photo by Gwen Solley.

Three flash flood warnings have been issued. The last one, on July 6, included a pre-evacuation notice for lower Poudre Canyon residents. The canyon highway was temporarily closed due to mud slides. In Poudre Park, a flash flood came out of Falls Gulch, where mountainside forests and five homes were destroyed by the High Park Fire.

The flash flood caused major damage to one home and prompted the Poudre Park community to come out en masse July 7 to fill 2,000 sandbags to protect the remaining Falls Gulch homes and houses adjacent to Colorado Highway 14 that were impacted by the previous night’s flooding. Coloradoan article and photos.

We’d like to thank the following Poudre Park residents and others who assisted with sandbagging (and we apologize if anyone was missed from the list below):

  • Chanda Alley
  • Steve and Kelly Carlson
  • Larry and Deb Carter
  • Doug Conarroe and Dana Coffield (North Forty News)
  • Brian and Debbie Hanson (drive-by from Fort Collins)
  • Tony and Kellie Falbo
  • Greg Harding (friend of Falbos from Fort Collins)
  • Tony Herner
  • Rod Feigle
  • Jamie Fredreicksen
  • Carl and Jan Gueswel (with two granddaughters)
  • Gary Kimsey
  • Patty Jackson (friend of Kimsey from Kansas City)
  • Bob and Steph Maynard
  • Mark Naber
  • Joe Oberto (son-in-law of Herner from Fort Collins)
  • Dave Wright and Dianna Sanford
  • Vicki Sronce
  • Diana Straub
  • Carl and Gwen Solley
  • Jeff Schaefer
  • Rick Stonecipher

To be alerted via email about emergency warnings and other news, you can ask to be included in the Larimer County Sheriff Department’s email notifications. Send an email with your request to: sheriff-press-release@co.larimer.co.us. Please be aware, though, that you will receive other types of news beyond warnings.


Welcome to this blog, the second one, for the volunteer fire department. If you missed the first blog, click here.

County meeting for High Park survivors on July 9

The Larimer County commissioners, county staff and other agencies will hold a public meeting for High Park Fire victims on Monday, July 9, at 6:30 p.m. in the first-floor hearing room in the Larimer County Courthouse Offices Building, 200 W. Oak St., Fort Collins. The purpose is to gather information on survivor needs and concerns, and to share information on services available now and in the coming months.

Meeting on burned forests on July 11

There will be a meeting Wednesday, July 11, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Cache La Poudre Middle School Gym regarding trees, lack of trees, burnt trees, soil erosion, reseeding, mudslides, and related issues. Mike Hughes of the Colorado State Forest Service, representatives from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other natural resource professionals will present information on managing burned landscapes. Please attend since the topics will cover the impacted Poudre Canyon. Handouts will be provided and information on financial assistance for renewing properties will be available.

Fire District requests county help with High Park Fire debris

On July 7, Bill Sears, volunteer fire board president, sent an email to Larimer County asking for assistance to help stem the flow of debris going into the Poudre River from Hewlett Gulch and other small tributaries throughout the High Park Fire area. Here’s an excerpt from Bill’s request:

“The black stuff from the fire that pours off the hillsides includes ash, charcoal, burned sticks, mud, sand, and rocks. It has washed down everywhere, creating a big mess. The stuff washing off the hillsides is what has been closing Highway 14.

“CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation) has been using its snow plows to clear these swaths of debris that wash across the highway. Mostly they’re not very deep but deep enough in some spots to bog down a car if not cleared away.

“The black stuff washing off hillsides is clogging normal drainage channels and washing across roads, down roads, across people’s yards and driveways, and filling some side roads, making them difficult to drive on.

“We haven’t done more than a minor assessment, but the stuff has washed around at least a couple of houses and into one garage. The has created new gullies, adding to the challenge.”

We’ll keep you informed through this blog about developments related to flood mitigation.

Coloradoan article on financial impact

If you missed a July 5 Coloradoan article about the hidden costs of  fighting the High Park and Hewlett wildfires, here’s the link to the article. The story focuses on financial burdens experienced by the Poudre, Rist and Glacier View volunteer fire departments.

Blues Afternoon fundraiser July 21

There will be a musical blues event in Old Town Fort Collins from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 21 to raise funds for the Poudre Canyon, Rist and Glacier View volunteer fire protection districts. Nine bands will perform.

Help out: Buy a tee shirt

The volunteer fire department is selling tee shirts to raise funds. The shirt sports a photo (the one below) of the volunteer firefighting effort that saved a Poudre Park home during the June 8 firestorm. The home was saved by foaming the structure, as you can see in the photograph. The outbuilding in the background was lost. The photograph is on the front of the tee shirt, along with text that states: “Poudre Canyon Volunteer Firefighters.” The back side has “Thank You, Poudre Canyon Firefighters.”

The photograph was taken by Mike McDonnell, volunteer fireman. Carl Solley, fire chief, is the firefighter in the lower right side of the photo.

Purchase tee shirts by going to the Poudre Canyon Fire Protection District web site: http://www.poudrecanyonfpd.org/. Tee shirts will also be available for sale at upcoming fundraisers for the district. The cost: $20 if purchased at an event and $25 if ordered through the web site; this includes postage and handling.

Help from the lemon-AID stand…

From Brianna Doby, a Denver photographer:

“I wanted to let you know that my two children, Falyn, 7, and Herschel, 5, have been running a “lemon-AID” stand for your firefighters for the past several days. Fox 31 came by to do a story on them, which you can see here. Here are more photographs.

Herschel, 5, and Fayln, 7, spent 26 hours at their lemon-AID stand to raise donations for the Poudre Canyon Fire Protection District and the Red Cross Waldo Canyon relief fund. Photo by Brianna Doby.

“To date, they have raised $980.45 over 26 hours of time at their stand (no TV, no music, no games, just working hard and serving their customers!). They have worked so hard, and they are motivated by all of the hard work your organization has done to save lives, homes and land!

“They asked to divide the money between the Poudre Canyon Fire Protection District and the Red Cross (Waldo Canyon relief), so in the next day or two a Paypal donation will come through for about $500. Please know that these two little kids believe in all of the hard work and heroism of the PCFPD, and that they are thinking about all of you as their own role models.

“As a photographer, I’m doing a big giveaway of a year of free photography for anyone who donates to a list of wildfire relief groups, and the PCFPD is on that list. I have heard from a few people that they have donated to you in order to enter my giveaway, and I’m hoping you’ll see more donations because of that, too.

“My daughter Falyn has a beloved kindergarten teacher, Rachel Ladasky, who until recently lived in Fort Collins (and is also a CSU grad). Rachel had just taken the children and me on a tour of her adopted hometown shortly after the fire started. They thought it was such a beautiful place, and they were deeply upset when they heard adults talking about the wildfire there, and the rest is lemon-AID history.

“Thank you for everything that all of you do, and thank you for being an inspiration to my kids. What the PCFPD does is amazing, and we are so grateful for your hard work.”

A note from Bill Sears, fire board president

One of the firefighters’ commanders from out of town said fire crews had never been in a community like northern Colorado where so much support and appreciation were shown by residents. The firefighters were particularly impressed by people who lined the roads with signs of thank you as fire crews changed work shifts and headed back to their headquarters and camp in Fort Collins.

We’d like to thank Jan Gueswel of the Lower Poudre Canyon Association and Laura Stahl of the Upper Poudre Canyon Association for emailing out our blogs until we can get our subscription base established. Please subscribe to the blog. You can do so in the right column. A subscription is free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Web site under revision; new feature allows for online donations

Bob Maynard of Poudre Park is revision the fire district’s web site: Poudre Canyon Fire Protection District. A new feature is PayPal where you can easily and safely make on online donation.

Scenes from the July 4 parade in Fort Collins

Kellie and Tony Falbo drove one of the Poudre Canyon Fire Protection District’s trucks in the Fort Collins July 4 parade. Bill Sears sold High Park Fire tee shirts (see info above) to raise money for the volunteer district.

Jan Gueswel of Poudre Park and her granddaughters, Bailey and Jindi Gueswel, offer a show of big support.

Photos from July 7 sandbagging for Poudre Park homes

Larry Carter stacks sandbags along the highway-side of his home. The previous day’s flash flood went through his property. Larry put up the “Thank You” sign as a way to thank volunteer firefighters who saved Poudre Park, but the sign seemed appropriate for his neighbors who helped with placing sandbags to keep his home safe from future flash flooding.

Gwen Solley, Steph Maynard and Dianna Sanford fill sandbags.

Carl Solley, fire chief, moves a load of flash flood debris from a ditch along the highway. The debris clogged up the ditch, endangering the home of Rod (in the blue shirt) and Donna Marie Feigle if future flash flooding occurs. In the background, Bob Maynard directs traffic. Photo by Gwen Solley.

Protecting a home in Falls Gulch. Photo by Gwen Solley.

As sandbagging continued throughout the afternoon, it was business as usual for sightseers and commercial rafting companies as they drove by the bagging area.

Carl moves a load of sandbags toward Hill Gulch at the east end of Poudre Park. A diversion was created in the gulch to keep future flash flooding from destroying a home. Photo by Gwen Solley.

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