Crews preparing for more active week at Muddy Slide Fire after relatively calm weekend
There was minimal fire activity expected again Sunday for the Muddy Slide Fire as cooler temperatures and rain kept fire activity limited to creeping and smoldering in several areas, though larger logs continued to burn in others.
More rain is expected over the next week, but that won’t put the fire out, and the amount of moisture overall in the area is decreasing. As the week progresses, temperatures will increase and humidity, both in the day and at night, will decrease, making weather more conducive for fire.
“This is not going to lead to critical fire weather, but we are going to start to see increased fire weather through the week,” said Chip Redmond, incident meteorologist working the Muddy Slide Fire, in an update Sunday.
Still estimated at about 4,150 acres, crews engaged the fire both directly and indirectly Sunday. There are now 242 people working to fight the fire, according to InciWeb, which provides updates on fires across the United States.
The Muddy Slide Fire is expected to be a long-duration fire, as it is burning in steep, inaccessible terrain were beetle-killed trees pose a significant risk to firefighter safety. As weather warms up this week, more smoke is expected in the area, after a reprieve from the haze through the weekend. The estimated containment date is now July 30 per InciWeb.
Most of the effort in recent days has been on the north side of the fire, with hotshot crews establishing hand lines right on the fire’s edge, working across the Green Ridge area to secure and get water on the fire.
“They actually have really got a good toe hold in here,” said Beau Kidd, operations section chief for the fire in an update Sunday. “They are securing that everyday; we’ve got some more resources or crews in there backing that up with hose and water to put that edge out.”
Kidd said crews have been working for three days to create a fuel break, setting up an indirect perimeter to the north to give crews a better chance to stop the fire from spreading north if it were to push that direction.
“That is going to take another couple of days to get that in, and we plan to have some more support coming in tomorrow,” Kidd said.
This area could see burnout operations later in the week to remove vegetation between the fire’s edge and the lines that crews have been making, which if done, would reduce the chances of the fire spreading north toward developments in Stagecoach.
Mitigation crews have been assessing the risk to properties in the area since the fire broke out a week ago and have now worked up to the closure point at mile marker 8 on Routt County Road 16, which is significantly away from the fire, Kidd said.
Still, crews will continue to work farther north toward developments south of Stagecoach Reservoir.
“We are always planning ahead,” Kidd said, adding that they have a plan in place for if the fire were to turn north. “We know the equipment that we need, the amount of resources or engines that we need and (can) implement that immediately if the fire switches directions.”
Some hotshot crews hiked a line south of the fire Saturday from the Green Ridge Road to C.R. 16 but decided it wouldn’t be a safe option to fight the fire directly from there, Kidd said. Instead, they are building an indirect line that incorporates places where there has already been fire mitigation and clear cutting of trees closer to C.R. 16
“We are looking to get going on that right away, and that is, probably, we’re guessing about a five day operation to complete that line and have it ready to go if the fire makes a move that way,” Kidd said.
Kidd said the area to the east of the fire along C.R. 16 looks “really good,” as engine crews have been in there for several days mopping up around some of the structures in that area. By mopping up, Kidd said he means wetting down and taking all the heat out of the edge of the fire, similar to drowning a campfire to ensure it is entirely out.
“We are feeling really confident that that is getting more and more secure as the days go on,” Kidd said.
Crews are also looking at areas east of C.R. 16 for potential fire lines if the fire were to cross the road to protect structures in that area, as well.
“We don’t want to just rest on our laurels,” Kidd said. “We want to have plan B.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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