Containment grows on West Routt County fire
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Officials remain confident as they work to contain the 4,112-acre wildfire burning in West Routt County.
“I think they’re getting a pretty good perimeter on this fire,” Sheriff Garrett Wiggins said. “I don’t think there is a whole lot of concern of it taking it off.”
As of Saturday evening, the fire was 39 percent contained, allowing some firefighters to leave and fight a new fire in neighboring Moffat County.
“It looked like we were going to lose some our resources, and they were going to go start working on that,” Wiggins said.
The fire northeast of Hayden was reported Sept. 4 and grew quickly in the first few days, with smoke filling the Yampa Valley on Sept. 7.
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“It hasn’t grown much since about day three; it’s hovering around that 4,000-acre mark,” Wiggins said.
Lightning was initially suspected of having ignited the fire, but the cause was officially unknown as of Sunday.
Firefighters have been concerned about wind-borne embers touching off spot fires, but as of Sunday, no new fires had been detected in the area.
The weather is expected to be warm and dry in the coming days, with the possibility of thunderstorms.
“They’re hoping to get a better containment on it by then,” Wiggins said. “I think everyone feels fairly optimistic about it.”
A total of 293 people were working on the fire.
“It’s definitely been a very active fire season,” Wiggins said.
The lightning-caused Big Red Fire in North Routt County has burned 2,854 acres in the Routt National Forest.
It was discovered Aug. 1, and 64 people are working at that fire.
The Mill Creek Fire, sparked by a bulldozer — which was ironically being used to build fire line — was reported July 1. It burned 484 acres.
The lightning-caused Himes Peak Fire burning in the Flat Tops Wilderness south of Routt County has burned 130 acres.
The Deep Creek Fire is the biggest fire Routt County has seen since 2002.
That year, 41,900 acres burned in the Routt National Forest. The Hinman and Burn Ridge fires in North Routt started in July 2002 and joined to form the Zirkel Complex, which burned 31,000 acres. The lightning-caused fires were not fully contained until October.
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Aspen Skiing Co. and most of the Colorado ski industry were cruising along in a second strong season, until the coronavirus crisis forced their closure on March 14. Skier visits would typically be announced this week, but the ski industry is focused on forging ahead rather than looking back.