Muddy Slide Fire claims trailers, cabin on Lynx Pass Ranch; now at 4,150 acres
186 people now working on fire in South Routt County
Last fall, when the Middle Fork Fire north of Steamboat Springs would cast a smoky haze through the ski town, Jim and Barb Ficke would head to their Lynx Pass Ranch for some fresh air.
“Just to get out of the smoke and stay for a night or two,” Jim said. “We spent a lot of time up there and the fishing is good in the lake.”
The two were just up there Saturday, stocking the two mobile homes they have on the property with canned goods for the summer. The next day the Muddy Slide Fire broke out in the Gore Range and by Tuesday had grown to encompass over 1,000 acres. But that night it continued to move.
At about 1 a.m. Wednesday, as flames from the fire could be seen from Toponas, the Fickes got a call regarding the fate of property. Firefighters did their best, but the fire moved too quickly and engulfed the structures. Some reported it looked like fireworks at times as their property burned.
Jim, 89, said the property, which had seven mobile homes, a cabin and several outbuildings, was a total loss, describing it as looking like a war zone. There was mangled aluminum from the trailers and the charred remnants of their interiors strewn across the property. Several propane tanks on site had exploded.
“They did everything they could do to save that place,” Jim said. “Those trailers were old, with a lot of compressed wood and paper. The fire department did great.”
While the Muddy Slide Fire claimed their trailer, the Fickes said no one was there when it happened and no one lived full-time at the property, which they own with five others. They didn’t have any insurance on the place and are not sure if it was worth much anyway. Barb had some needle work inside that she had done, there were a few original paintings and a chair Jim said was “pretty neat.”
“I’m brokenhearted frankly; I loved going up there,” Jim said. “I’m old and I still stay in shape by having a place like that.”
Jim said he hopes the fire will help get some new growth in the forest that will allow elk to better make their way through what he said is packed with beetle kill and downed trees.
The beetle-kill lodgepole pine and spruce trees had been the main fuels for the fire Thursday as personnel increased by about a third, jumping from 122 people Wednesday to 186 people Thursday, according to InciWeb as of Thursday evening.
But without Red Flag warnings as seen in the previous four days of the fire, Thursday’s cool weather that brought some rain held the fire to about 4,150 acres, an increase of less than 100 acres over the previous estimate provided Thursday morning. Temperatures are expected to be lower and the humidity higher over the next few days.
Two teams of hotshots, which work on the hottest part of the fire, directly engaged the fire near Muddy Slide Trail to create an anchor point.
“An anchor is a point to start with where you have got it set, you’ve got it controlled, you’ve got a good line on it and then you work from there,” said Cass Cairns, public affairs specialist with the Bureau of Land Management.
Structure protection and triage will continue on Routt County Road 16 tomorrow. There has been no official word about any structures lost in the fire — including the Ficke’s property — by county officials. Jim said he was told his property was the only place that got “lit up.”
With rain in the forecast, fire behavior is expected to be low with creeping, where it burns slowly with low flame, and possibly some pockets of isolated torching, when a tree ignites all at once, in spots where rain doesn’t make it through the canopy.
Cairns said people should not expect rain to put out the fire, as it would really only have an effect on what firefighters call the “fine jewels,” like grasses and small thin limbs that will be able to absorb some of the moisture.
“If we only get an 1/8-inch or a 1/4-inch, it won’t make any difference at all, because after this weekend it is going to warm right back up,” Cairns said. “Any moisture that goes into that ground is going to be gone by the first day of hot weather.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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