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Lost Man fire under control

Steve Benson
Mollie Pricher and Eric Gottlieb, both from Rifle and menbers of the Upper Colorado River interagency fire management team, respond to a fire on Williams Mountain on Independence Pass near Aspen Sunday afternoon August 1, 2004. Aspen Times photo/Devon Meyers.
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Lightning ignited a small wildfire on Independence Pass near Lost Man Reservoir Sunday afternoon. Four members of the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD) reached the fire shortly after 5 p.m., and were later assisted by a two-person crew from the U.S. Forest Service. The firefighters dug a line around the fire, which was burning a couple of trees near Midway Pass, and the Interagency Fire Dispatch Center in Grand Junction sent a helicopter to douse the flames with a bucket – but that never happened.

The helicopter circled the smoldering fire for over a half hour, awaiting permission from the Forest Service to use water from the Lost Man Reservoir. But with darkness approaching, the helicopter running low on fuel and no word from the Forest Service, the mission was aborted. Randy Smith, of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, said it’s not uncommon for helicopters to respond to small fires, like the one on Independence Pass.”After Storm King, [fire officials] rethought all the little smokers,” he said. “Now they want to put them out as fast as possible.”

Despite the inability to use the helicopter, assistant AVFD Fire Chief Orrin Moon didn’t feel it was a major missed opportunity. With crews working into the evening to dig a containment line, and with cool temperatures and low humidity, Moon said it did not present a threat of spreading. “They’ll come back [today] and put it to bed,” he added.

Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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