Beaver Creek Fire cost $30 million |

Beaver Creek Fire cost $30 million

the fire grew to 303 acres through the weekend.

— The Beaver Creek fire in neighboring Jackson County proved to be costly.

With hundreds of firefighters working at times and expensive aircraft dropping retardant, U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Jeremiah Zamora said the total cost was about $30 million.

“It’s an estimate because there are still invoices coming in,” Zamora said.

In Routt County, the costs were still being calculated for the lightning-caused Silver Creek fire in the Sarvis Creek Wilderness. The fire burned 469 acres. Firefighters monitored the fire but never fought it.

The 163-day Beaver Creek fire started June 19 and was not declared extinguished until Nov. 29. It burned more than 38,000 acres of private, federal, county and state lands. More than 18,750 acres burned in the Routt National Forest.

On Oct. 4, the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office filed arson charges related to the fire against a juvenile. A spokeswoman for the DA’s Office said the case was ongoing.

Remarkably, only one home was lost along with 16 minor structures. Only one firefighter lost time working at the fire because of an injury.

The fire burned in beetle-killed trees.

“With the beetle kill in the area, we knew that we were at a higher risk for fire, but we were able to respond in a way we wanted,” Zamora said.

Because of the danger, firefighters focused on protecting structures.

“I’m proud of the way that was done,” Zamora said. “Those guys worked really hard.”

Some work still needs to be done at the site of the fire. For example, culverts are being replaced, and in some places, larger culverts are being installed in anticipation of larger runoff caused by the fire.

The U.S. Forest Service will be among the agencies that will monitor the impacts from the fire.

They will be monitoring for invasive weeds and water quality.

“We expect to see an increase in the deposits of silt and those types of things with the runoff,” Zamora said.

The impacts to wildlife will also be monitored this spring and for years to come.

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

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