Fire flares near Big Red Park | SteamboatToday.com
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Fire flares near Big Red Park

Susan Cunningham

Crews are working to put out a 5-acre wildfire burning two miles northwest of Big Red Park in the Routt National Forest.

The fire, which was sparked by lightning, is burning in the Middle Fork of the Little Snake River, said Diann Ritschard, fire information officer for the Routt National Forest.

On Wednesday afternoon, two tankers, a helicopter, the Yampa Valley firefighting crew and the Craig Hotshots worked to suppress the fire by constructing fire containment lines.

On Thursday, the two 20-person crews remained on the scene, along with a fire engine and one helicopter that was dropping water on the blaze.

The fire is not near any campgrounds, and the nearest private land is a few miles to the southwest and southeast, Ritschard said.

Spruce and fir stands are burning, with some of the trees dead from beetles and from wind gusts that blew them to the ground. The area was not, however, part of the 1997 Routt Divide Blowdown that flattened a large area of forest.

Some smoke had drifted into the Little Snake Valley on Thursday, and was expected to be visible in North Routt County by Thursday afternoon, Ritschard said.

Forest Development Road 500 is closed because it is the main road being used to deliver supplies and equipment to firefighters. Closing the road ensures safety for firefighters as well as other people who may have been using it, Ritschard said.

Predicted afternoon thunderstorms could provide some relief with rain, she said, but there is always concern that lightning could start other blazes.

The fire management plan for the forest dictates that if a wildfire starts in this area, all efforts to quickly suppress the fire would be made, Ritschard said, so a full-suppression strategy is being followed.

The decision was based on a number of factors, including fuels in the area, the current and predicted weather, proximity to private lands and available resources to fight fires.

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com


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