Beaver Creek Fire 5 Percent Contained, Number of Assigned Personnel Triples
Fire lines, additional personnel and a bit of rain Thursday night accounted for a bit of progress on the Beaver Creek Fire burning roughly 15 miles northwest of Walden, Colo., just two miles south of the Wyoming/Colorado border.
As of Friday afternoon, the fire is 5 percent contained and has burned 5,368 acres. The fire remained active Thursday evening but did not grow significantly. Erratic from a thunderstorm that passed over the area Thursday afternoon winds continue to fuel flare ups and spot fires.
Aaron Voos of the U.S. Forest Service says that's simply because the fire may never reach established fire lines, which is a key component of how containment is quantified.
"This fire may burn out or may be put out by rain at seventy-five percent containment, for example," says Voos. "This one is a little bit different with containment, and so we just want to make sure everyone understands that."
That difference lies in the strategy of engaging the blaze indirectly by keeping hand crews focused on structure protection and building fire line rather than fighting the flames head-on. Heavy fuel loading in the area makes that method of firefighting too hazardous to pursue.
But the indirect approach does not mean fire managers are simply letting the blaze 'do it's thing.'
"If it builds up a really big head of steam and has a really big hot spot and is threatening some of the line, we'll certainly put air resources on it and reinforce the lines," Voos says. "It's not a total hands-off approach. It's just a different approach instead of putting firefighters directly right there on that line."
Voos says the strategy emphasizes constant observation and evaluation of the fire in order to distribute firefighting resources most effectively. InciWeb lists the estimated containment date as Monday, Aug. 1.
A total of 379 firefighters are assigned to the Beaver Creek Fire. Now on scene are 61 fire engines, 11 water tenders, four helicopters, two bulldozers and a hand crew.
The fire is burning primarily in heavy timber, 50-80 percent of which is beetle kill, and in some areas of grass and sage brush.
"The fire needs to burn through areas of beetle kill while firefighters continue to scout and prepare indirect containment lines and protect values at risk," says Deputy Incident Commander Rob Powell. "Maintaining firefighter and public safety is the top priority."
Crews continued to suppress spot fires, create fireline and protect and prepare threatened buildings. No assessment of the forty threatened buildings was available Friday afternoon.
Concerned residents or cabin owners can contact the Jackson County Sheriff's Department at 970-723-4242. The incident management team says the sheriff can provide information regarding structure damage or loss.
All of Independence Mountain remains closed along with the Big Creek Lakes Recreation Area, the area east of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness boundary, south of Forest Road 681 and south of Forest Road 80. Beaver Creek and Seven Lakes Trailheads, County Road 6W and Forest Roads 80 (Hog Park Road), 600, 681 and 689 are also closed.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Tips from the public have provided authorities with good information to continue their investigation.
Anyone with information regarding suspicious activity in the Twisty Peaks area where the fire started Sunday afternoon can call U.S. Forest Service Officer Hannah Nadeau at 307-343-2335.