The Saratoga Sun -

Beaver Creek fire grows

Low humidity and north by northwest winds increase fire area to 9,114 acres Monday night

 


The Beaver Creek fire, responsible for increasing levels of smoke in the Platte Valley, has grown to 9114 acres as of Tuesday morning, according to Aaron Voos, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Public Affairs Specialist.

According to a press release issued Tuesday morning, the growth was caused by consecutive days of low humidity and north by northwest winds. Group torching and crowning continued into the early morning hours, a period when fires usually burn with less intensity.

Significant growth Monday night came internally from unburned fuels, but it also grew out of the preexisting perimeter south and west over Big Creek Lake. Closures have been extended up to the Wyoming border over to the Continental Divide, the area south of Hog Park. According to Voos, this area is large enough to impact Wyoming.

To the west lies the Mount Zirkel wilderness area, which limits certain mechanized techniques the firefighters may use. To the south, structural damage remains a concern.

With much of the area comprised of beetle kill trees, the crews are taking an indirect approach. Sending firefighters into areas of beetle kill is very dangerous; the fires move very fast and burn hot for a long time. Since many beetle kill trees are dead, falling trees become a safety risk, said Voos. Direct approaches have been taken on areas of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands without as much beetle kill.

The press release quoted Operations Section Trainee Chief Aaron Thompson as saying to firefighters, “The fire is going to stand up and move. There is a lot of new fire edge but the mission remains the same, defend structures and build contingency line. Keep your heads up and keep safety a top priority.”

Aerial methods are still being utilized and mechanized lines have been laid in some areas, Voos said. As of Tuesday there were 485 total personnel on the Beaver Creek fire from a number of different agencies including Colorado BLM and USFS. Dozers are working to build and improve contingency fire lines, structure protection engines will set up sprinkler systems and air attack began watching the fire Tuesday morning with helicopters available to ground crews for cooling spot fires and hot spots.

The focus remains on structure protection. So far, all residential structures have been saved.

Anyone with information on suspicious activity should contact U.S. Forest Service Officer Hannah Nadeau, 307-343-2335.

Official information on the fire is being disseminated via Inciweb: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4797/.

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