Fire holding steady at 13,275 acres |

Fire holding steady at 13,275 acres

Beaver Creek Fire
Jeni Lawver

— The large plume of smoke alarmed some people last week, but officials say the Beaver Creek Fire burning over the Continental Divide does not threaten recreation areas typically accessed from the Steamboat Springs area.

The fire this week in Jackson County is burning within perimeters and has been holding steady at 13,275 acres since June 30.

“It hasn’t really gotten outside of the fire perimeter, but there is a lot of unburned fuel inside the perimeter,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos said Wednesday.

Voos said investigators are looking into the possibility that the fire was human caused. He said the origin of the fire was traced back to the Twisty Park area where there are dispersed camp sites. There was no lightning in the area around the time the fire was discovered around noon June 19.

People with information or tips about the fire can call the Forest Service at 307-343-2335.

The fire is primarily traveling with the direction of the wind, and Steamboat Springs District Ranger Chad Stewart does not foresee the fire traveling west enough to push it over the Continental Divide.

Closures have been established in areas east of the Continental Divide, but Stewart said they have chosen to keep the Continental Divide Trail open.

Stewart said the impacts from the fire burning about 15 miles northwest of Walden are going to be felt in Jackson County.

“It’s really going to be affecting the east side (of the Continental Divide) for some time,” Stewart said.

Economically, some recreation areas have been closed and some hunters are already making alternative plans.

A community meeting was held with fire officials Tuesday.

Aerial photos show the mosaic burn pattern that the fire has created in the forest. In some areas, the fire burned intensely through heavy timber. Other areas are untouched.

The fire has burned primarily through fallen and dead standing beetle-killed lodgepole pine trees. Because of the danger in sending firefighters to the front lines of the fire, the strategy has focused on protecting assets and on monitoring the fire. The fire has destroyed two sheds, while sprinkler systems and protective coverings have been installed to protect more valuable buildings.

Stewart said at one point there were more than 500 firefighters working at the fire. With a lot of the structure protection work now complete, staffing levels were going to drop to below 200.

The low humidity, warm temperatures and decreased fuel moisture levels are near critical fire weather thresholds. Fire managers say firefighters are prepared for increased fire activity.

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

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