Farwell fire in final throes | SteamboatToday.com

Farwell fire in final throes

Firefighters were close to extinguishing a wilderness fire that started Thursday afternoon near Farwell Mountain, said Kent Foster, the zone fire management officer for the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit.

By Friday afternoon, firefighters had contained the fire to one-tenth of an acre, Foster said. He expected the fire to be extinguished today.

Lightning sparked the fire in a patch of blown down trees at about 4 p.m. Thursday east of Steamboat Lake. Firefighters hiked four hours into the forest Friday morning to tackle the blaze using refillable backpack pumps that hold five gallons of water, Foster said.

They were using low-impact, fire-suppression techniques to minimize the marks left in the forest, he said.

Because of the fire’s safe location, firefighters considered allowing the fire to burn itself out to save the unit’s resources and reap the natural benefits of controlled burns.

“In certain backcountry areas where natural boundaries for the fire exist and where we can predict where the fire is going to go, we sometimes allow the fire to burn because fire plays a natural role in the environment,” Foster said.

In addition to allowing the forest to renew itself and create vegetation, fires also reduce future risk by burning underbrush in the forest, he said.

In the end, firefighters decided to extinguish the fire because it was too small to achieve those positive benefits, he said. Also, the fire was in an area very visible to recreationalists.

Although this fire poised no significant danger, Foster warned people to be aware of the continued risk of wildfires.

“Currently, the fire danger in surrounding forests is moderate, but the conifer species are still dry and a fire hazard. Also, another week or two of this hot, dry weather and we could be back to high fire danger,” he said.

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