No containment yet on wildfire burning in west Routt County
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County residents continued to feel the impacts of wildfire season Wednesday as dozens of firefighters tried to get a handle on a more active Deep Creek Fire burning near Hayden.
Smoke coming into the Yampa Valley from several fires prompted the cancellation of softball tournament games in Steamboat Springs.
And children in the town of Hayden were told to be more vigilant crossing the streets because of a large influx of fire engines and other trucks that were converging there for the firefighting efforts at Wolf Mountain.
“This afternoon the fire was more active than it was yesterday,” Schelly Olson, a spokeswoman for the firefighting efforts, said Wednesday evening of the Deep Creek Fire. “Hand crews and dozers worked on containment lines on the southwest and southeast flanks of the fire. But we have no containment yet. You have to be certain the fire is not going to cross those lines.”
The fire had burned more than 2,200 acres by Wednesday morning.
It is burning through mixed conifer, aspen and gambel oak on private and BLM lands about 13 miles northwest of Steamboat.
Olson said no injuries had been reported at the fire.
And despite the fire’s growth, no new evacuation orders have been issued.
About 83 people were working the fire Wednesday.
Crews fighting the fire Wednesday morning included the Wyoming Hot Shots, a Colorado River hand crew, local fire agencies in Routt County and two helicopters. Officials said late Tuesday night they suspect the Deep Creek Fire was caused by a lightning strike.
A type 2 incident command team was expected to take control of the fire Wednesday evening.
The changeover was a response to the fire’s rapid growth in recent days.
“I anticipate the tempo of the direct attacks (on the fire) should increase tomorrow,” Routt County Emergency Management Director David “Mo” DeMorat said after leaving the fire area Wednesday evening.
Fire trucks remained stationed at structures at nearby ranches.
Fueled by wind and dry conditions, the fire has mostly moved to the west and southwest.
A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction said the Yampa Valley should see some relief from wildfire smoke by the end of the week.
“We’re looking for somewhat of a relief tomorrow (Thursday),” Megan Stackhouse said. “I’m not going to say it’s going to disappear entirely, but the winds aren’t going to be as direct in transporting that smoke.”
Stackhouse said smoke should lessen in the area late Thursday and Friday.
The Deep Creek fire is one of several still burning around the country.
To the north, the Big Red Fire has been burning in North Routt County and edging closer to the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area and the Continental Divide.
And further to the west, more than 150 hikers had to be rescued from a wildfire burning in the Columbia River Gorge.
Some residents have been asking how they can help firefighters and the affected residents in West Routt.
“Please thank everyone for their generosity,” public information officer Mike Lane responded Wednesday. “Right now, firefighters are set for meals as a caterer is on site with type 3 incident. Most ranchers who needed to move livestock have done so, and no one is currently looking for housing. The (incident management team) has the fairgrounds on stand-by if needed, but again, nothing requested at this time.”
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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.