Northern Rockies command team holds one final community meeting about fire
Incident commander Mike Almas and his Northern Rockies Incident Command team gave a final goodbye to Basalt on Saturday evening in what was expected to be the final community meeting in relation to the Lake Christine Fire. After 12 days fighting a wildfire that now has spread to 6,787 acres as of 6 p.m. Saturday, Almas and his team will be replaced Monday by a new crew, led by Bart Kicklighter.
“It’s very difficult to come up here and say goodbye,” Almas said from Basalt High School, noting the community’s outpouring of support over the past week. “We spent a lot of time transitioning, so they’ve been out on the line with us. We have tried to set him up with success the best we can by leaving him with people from this team.”
According to operations section chief Keith Brink, the fire was 57 percent contained as of Saturday evening, with most of the firefighting focused on the northwest corner. Brink also said the area closest to downtown Basalt, nearer to where the fire started at the gun range, was “looking real good.”
“We’ve had folks out there every day, pretty much just holding and securing what we put in there. But that corner is looking in really good shape,” Brink said. “Most of our focus here the last couple of days has been on this piece over here on the northwest corner of the fire. That’s where we’ve been working the helicopters the most. We are trying to keep the spread from moving any further to the northwest, if we can.”
The half-hour meeting included a few words from both Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt and Eagle County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry.
Chandler-Henry pointed out that while the fire is relatively contained, pre-evacuation orders still remain in place for a large portion of the area. She also mentioned that the Eagle County building in El Jebel, which has been the incident team’s headquarters this past week, would once again be open to the public as normal beginning Tuesday.
Whitsitt pointed out how well all the teams, from local to federal, worked together to fight the fire.
“A huge feeling of honor that I was able to sit at the same table with this management team,” Whitsitt said. “There are so many silver linings after this fire. One of the ones that doesn’t get mentioned that much is watching this group work together.”
The meeting concluded with the showing of a short video put together by Barry Stevenson of Outdoor Adventure Media, highlighting the management teams uniquely close bond with the town of Basalt, showcased by Tuesday’s community rally near Crown Mountain Park.
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Unemployment scams have proliferated during the pandemic. Scammers have sought unemployment insurance payments after obtaining personal information and filing fraudulent claims. The town of Basalt snuffed out 13 recent scam cases.