Cache Creek Fire southwest of Rifle over 1,300 acres; still no containment
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Strong winds and down hill fuels caused the Cache Creek Fire southwest of Rifle to jump to 1,342 acres as of Wednesday night, as the fire personnel rose from 50 over the weekend to 158 by midweek.
Cache Creek Fire public information officer Brian Scott said one of the challenges with the fire has been aerial mapping.
“It’s been a challenge to get an aircraft to fly over the fire and map it,” he said.
As of Wednesday, containment was at zero percent.
The fire, burning eight miles southwest of Rifle, forced evacuations to be ordered along Battlement Creek Reservoir Road. The type 2 Rocky Mountain Blue Team was brought in to take over fire management efforts, according to a Tuesday update.
Four cabins at the top of the road, also know as Garfield County Road 302, have been ordered to evacuate as the fire grows in that direction, according to the most recent update from fire managers.
Scott said crews are working to protect those structures.
“There is a road closure of County Road 302, approximately 3-½ miles in, just above the Y at the last residence,” according to a Garfield County Sheriff’s Office press release sent out Tuesday morning. “The public is encouraged to stay clear of this area to allow fire fighting operations to proceed.”
According to Jay Esperance, incident commander, “During the initial response to the Cache Creek Fire, the local team made public and firefighter safety their top priority. Our team will continue that objective as the rough terrain and limited access will make fighting this fire a challenge.”
Scott said the challenges with aerial mapping resulted in a delayed update. As of Wednesday, the fire reached 995 acres.
The fire started late Saturday evening after a series of thunder and lightning storms moved through western Garfield County. However, a cause has not yet been determined.
The Rocky Mountain Blue Team is a type 2 incident management team available year-round for all-risk assignment, according to the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Blue Team website. The team replaced the local type 3 organization that was working on the fire Sunday and Monday, according to a Tuesday morning update from the White River National Forest.
The fire continues to burn in steep, rugged terrain with a substantial amount of dead and downed timber within the fire perimeter, with zero containment, states the Rocky Mountain Blue Team press release.
In addition to the two Type 1 large helicopters, a Type 2 medium helicopter will also be available to support ground resources in this effort, according to the press release.
The Rifle Ranger District of the White River National Forest has implemented an emergency area closure for the fire. The closure can be found on the Forest Service website at goo.gl/uLCtqA.
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Wayne Hall took a job as an air traffic controller at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in 2003 thinking he would stay for a short time. Instead he stayed for nearly 17 years and was promoted up to the position of air traffic manager. He reflected on the experience upon retirement.