Grizzly Creek Fire still smoking; no current threats but air crew on standby |

Grizzly Creek Fire still smoking; no current threats but air crew on standby

John LaConte
Vail Daily
An aerial photo from the U.S. Forest Service, taken Tuesday, shows what remains of the Grizzly Creek Fire in the Devil's Hole area of the White River National Forest. Devil's Hole is on roughly the same longitude as the Shoshone Dam, but much further south. Glenwood Canyon is to the left in the picture, and the helicopter from which the photo was taken was southwest of the smoke at the time.
Special to the Vail Daily

Fire crews examined the Devil’s Hole drainage from the sky on Tuesday morning, determining that, while smokey, the area is not posing a threat to the fire line on the Grizzly Creek fire.

The fire remains 32,431 acres — about 51 square miles — and is 91% contained.

“Had it been something, they say ‘let’s get this bucket on this,’” said David Boyd, the White River National Forest public affairs officer. “Which they have had to do on the Grizzly Creek Fire a couple of times over the past few weeks, just to hold it … but just looking at where it was, they were OK with where it was burning.”

Boyd said the type-3 helicopter with five crew members is assigned and available in Rifle when needed, and eight firefighters from the White River Fire Module are on the ground monitoring the fire, as well.

The Grizzly Creek Fire began as a Type-1 incident, which is the most serious designation a wildfire can receive from federal officials, with more than 700 people working to contain the blaze. The fire, which was burning both in Garfield County and Eagle County, was the nation’s top wildfire priority at one point over the summer, partially due to the fact that its containment necessitated a closure of Interstate 70. Two type-1 teams were assigned to the blaze in succession, one team was from the Great Basin area of the U.S. and another team from Alaska, before it was downgraded to a type-3 incident and a local team was assigned.

The type-3 team was mostly working on providing slope stabilization in areas where heavy equipment had removed vegetation to create a fire line.

“They were basically dragging the dirt and brush and everything back over those lines so they don’t erode, and providing some protection for the seeds that are already in the soil to germinate,” Boyd said.

When much of the support required for the suppression repair was no longer needed, the fire was reduced to a type-4 incident.

“Some time in mid September it went down to a type-4,” Boyd said. “But it’s not like a bunch of new people came in, the people that remained just became a type-4 organization, versus a type 3.”

The current incident commander is Dan Nielsen, a regional patrol commander with the U.S. Forest Service.

Nielsen said people living around the Grizzly Creek Fire will continue to see smoke until we get some moisture.

“Please respect the area closure of the fire perimeter and remember the White River National Forest and BLM in this area are in Stage 1 fire restrictions,” Nielsen said.


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