100 percent containment reached at Murphy Fire northwest of Hayden | SteamboatToday.com

100 percent containment reached at Murphy Fire northwest of Hayden

Smoke rises from the Irwin Fire near Routt County Road 53 on Sunday afternoon.
Eleanor C. Hasenbeck

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Smoke was visible to the west of Steamboat Springs as fires continued to burn Wednesday in West Routt County.

It is the second year in a row that fires have ignited around Labor Day weekend.

“It’s still pretty dry,” West Routt Fire Protection District Chief Dal Leck said Wednesday. “We haven’t gotten enough moisture to make up for the dryness we’ve had.”

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, southern Routt County is experiencing extreme drought while the northern half of the county is seeing severe drought.

Stage 1 fire restrictions remain in place. The region is still meeting four of the seven criteria used to help determine when fire restrictions are appropriate.

On Wednesday, a helicopter was used to investigate a report of smoke in North Routt County, but no fire was found.

The most recent fires are burning in the West Routt Fire Protection District, but firefighters from all the area fire departments and the U.S. Forest Service have assisted.

Murphy Fire

The Murphy Fire was reported Friday a few miles northwest of Hayden, and so far, 186 acres have burned.

“It’s 100 percent contained, but it’s not out,” Leck said. “We’ll be monitoring that for the next week or two.”

The fire started after lightning struck the Murphy Ranch near the rest stop west of Hayden along U.S. Highway 40.

“There was lightning hitting all around us when we were out there,” Leck said.

Irwin Fire

Firefighters were working at the Murphy Fire when the Irwin Fire broke out.

Leck said the Irwin Fire, burning south of Hayden along Routt County Road 53, has burned 164 acres and was 60 percent contained.

The fire was reported Sunday and forced the evacuation of one home.

Emergency alerts

Sign up for Routt County alerts:
• Visit RouttCountyAlerts.com.
• Download the orange Everbridge app.
• Call Routt County Communications at 970-870-5532.

“It had a lot of growth potential, so we called in a lot of help,” Leck said. “They did a lot of work for us, and they kept it small.”

Leck said the fire burning in grass, sagebrush and some timber was 60 percent contained.

Firefighters built a bulldozer line around the entire perimeter of the fire. The line needs to be reinforced before they can consider the areas contained.

“That fire moved so fast that there are a lot of unburned areas within the perimeter,” Routt County Emergency Management Director David “Mo” DeMorat said.

The cause of the Irwin fire is still under investigation.

Leck expectd the fire will be fully contained by next week.

Silver Creek Fire

The Silver Creek Fire burning southeast of Steamboat Springs in the Routt National Forest has burned 4,772 acres.

It was started by lightning and was reported July 19.

The fire is 60 percent contained, and there were 114 people working at it.

It is not expected to go out until the snow starts flying.

Costly fires

A single-engine air tanker did 14 water drops on the Murphy Fire, and there were 24 drops on the Irwin Fire.

DeMorat said it would be a couple of weeks before early cost estimates would be available.

The water drops have been the costliest part of the firefighting effort. A fund managed by the state of Colorado helps pay those costs.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

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