1996 Clark Peak Fire



Fire burning during 1996 Clark Peak fire



The Clark Peak Fire started on April 20, 1996. From April 29 through May 2, 1996 Observatory crews under the supervision of the Forest Service removed all the dead trees and the dead wood within 100 feet of the Observatory perimeter fence. Because the last fire on the area had been many, many years ago, the fuel load on the area was extremely high. The fuel load estimates approached 200 tons of dead wood per acre. A sprinkler system was set up around the Observatory perimeter and the site was evacuated on May 2nd at the request of the Forest Service. Ground fire crews, helicopters and aerial water tankers protected the Biology camp, the Observatory site and the vacation homes at Columbine. The fire approached the Observatory site from the southwestern slope of Emerald Peak. It came within 200 yards to the west, 300 yards to the south and 400 yards to the East. Flames as high as 350 feet were observed on the southwest side only a few hundred yards away. No structures were lost to the fire, neither at the Observatory nor anywhere else in the mountain.

  • Fire started:  April 20, 1996
  • Fire contained:  May 8, 1996
  • Closest approach to the Observatory:  May 3, 1996 -- 200 yards
  • Approximately 6,300 acres burned
  • Approximately 1,100 firefighters assigned
  • 31 crews
  • 26 engines
  • 9 helicopters
  • 1 air tanker
  • 4 bulldozers
  • 11 water tenders
  • Estimated cost to USFS: $8.0M

Images of the fire are below: