Crews work to stop 3 additional fires in Eagle County | AspenTimes.com
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Crews work to stop 3 additional fires in Eagle County

John LaConte
Vail Daily
A helicopter crew drops water Thursday on the Rube Creek Fire in Wolcott.
Chris Dillmann / Vail Daily

While the massive Grizzly Creek Fire burns in Eagle County, firefighters from the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit also worked several other nearby blazes on Thursday.

Both hand crews and air support were deployed to fight fires in near Wolcott, Camp Hale and Edwards. The Rube Creek Fire, burning south of Wolcott, was the largest at 9 acres as of Thursday evening. It’s burning on Bureau of Land Management property and, while 0% contained, was quickly surrounded by fire retardant, Doug Cupp with the Greater Eagle Fire District said on Thursday.

“We saw the lightning come in and then got reports of the fire, so it was very quick that we were able to get up there and get access to it,” Cupp said. “We called for aircraft support immediately — there’s not much access to get up there by vehicles or by foot, because it’s on the side of a massive cliff — so we used air support initially to cool the fire and box it in with retardant.”

After reducing the risk of the Rube Creek Fire with air support, “now we have hand crews engaged, fighting the fire,” Cupp said on Thursday evening.

Murphy Fire not growing

The Murphy Fire, burning 10 miles south of Edwards near New York Mountain, was first reported on Wednesday evening, but did not grow on Thursday past its initial 1-acre estimated size. Nineteen firefighters and two heavy helicopters worked the fire on Thursday. Air crews were able to respond quickly.

“We know that we can draw from the resources that we have assigned to the Grizzly Fire and reassign them if we need to, based on where the fire is located,” said Eagle-Holy Cross Deputy District Ranger Marcia Gilles.. “That does come up, and it’s part of the strategic conversations that we have.”

Hand crews were expected to have a fire line up by Thursday night to contain the Murphy Fire, Gilles said.

Smoke from the Murphy Creek Fire became visible just before 6 p.m. on Wednesday, prompting an Eagle County alert telling residents not to call 911.

“We had a bunch of lightning move through yesterday afternoon and then shortly thereafter we had three new fires that popped in the Eagle-Holy Cross district,” Gilles said. “There could be a chance that maybe there was an abandoned campfire, and it was coincidental with the lightning, so until we get that confirmation, we’re not saying what the cause of fire is.”

The Forest Service also received a report of smoke in the Hardscrabble Road area of Eagle, but were not able to confirm that report.

“We think that was probably just a different perspective that people were seeing from the Murphy Fire,” Gilles said.

Camp Hale contained

Four firefighters and a helicopter also worked the Camp Hale Fire on Thursday, a small fire in the Camp Hale area estimated at less than a tenth of an acre. It was fully contained and controlled by Thursday evening.

“Because we already have resources and a large type-1 team here, it’s a little easier for us to be able to rearrange and redirect resources as we need, to hit these other fires as they pop up,” Gilles said. “We really are hoping that we got a good handle on people and resources that we borrowed from the Grizzly Fire, as far as our air operations, to be able to help support those to get those out so they can come back and be more committed to this fire.”

With all that in mind, Gilles said, the Forest Service is calling on visitors to the area to be extra careful when it comes to fire precautions.

“We’re asking the public to really help us be diligent in watching what they’re doing as far as their impacts – making sure they’re not dragging their chains if they’re towing trailers, smoking, no campfires right now – the more they can help us, the more we can be on top of this Grizzly Fire, and also be able to react and respond to other fires as they pop up.”

The White River National Forest remains under Stage 2 fire restrictions, which prohibit all campfires and charcoal, even in developed areas. For more information, go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver.


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