Fire activity increases in Routt County
Steamboat Springs — This summer is shaping up to be an active fire season in Routt County.
On Tuesday morning, smoke had settled in the Yampa Valley after the previous day’s increased fire activity.
In West Routt County, firefighters on Monday afternoon responded to a fire on Wolf Mountain at property owned by the Wolf Mountain Ranch.
West Routt Assistant Fire Chief Trevor Guire said the fire was started by lightning in a remote area. It burned primarily in aspen trees north of mile marker 119 on U.S. Highway 40.
“It has probably been burning for several days,” Guire said.
Bulldozers from the ranch were used to build fire breaks, and the fire was 80 percent contained by Monday evening, when firefighters left for the night. Firefighters returned Tuesday morning and had the fire fully contained by noon.
On Tuesday, Oak Creek firefighters were called to help with a wildfire burning in the Routt National Forest near Trout Creek in Rio Blanco County.
Initial reports were that the fire was started by lightning.
It was burning in heavy timber, including beetle-killed lodgepole pine trees. The fire was estimated at a 20th of an acre.
“I would say by tonight, they’ll have it contained,” Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble said Tuesday.
Southeast of Stagecoach in the Sarvis Creek Wilderness, the Silver Creek fire burned 142 acres in a two-day period. Smoke could be seen from Steamboat Springs on Rabbit Ears Pass.
As of Tuesday morning, 464 acres had burned, and the fire remains entirely in the wilderness area. Significant portions of the Silver Creek Trail have been closed.
Firefighters in the past week have responded to three human-caused fires. On Wednesday, there was a small fire that was started by an abandoned campfire on Rabbit Ears Pass by the Walton Peak Trail.
Another improperly extinguished campfire started a fire on Sunday at the Sarvis Creek trailhead.
On Sunday, a small fire started at Steamboat Ski Area after someone reportedly dropped a lit cigarette from a gondola car.
“Don’t let carelessness be the cause of a devastating wildfire,” fire managers said in a news release.
Fire managers are continuously monitoring the weather and are wondering whether predictions of snow this weekend come to fruition.
“If it snows hard enough, it will definitely slow it down,” Struble said.
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With hunting season in full swing, officials are cautioning hunters to pay careful attention to hazard trees and slippery ash in and downstream of wildfire burn areas in Routt County.