Officials let fire run its course |

Officials let fire run its course

Nature will be allowed to run its course in the upper Fryingpan Valley where lightning started a small fire Saturday night.The U.S. Forest Service decided not to put out the fire, which is burning on less than an acre in secluded woods surrounded by rocks. Instead, officials will monitor it and let it burn.The Forest Service put word out about its plan Monday because smoke is visible from Forest Service Road 105, the popular route that goes from the end of the pavement above Ruedi Reservoir to Hagerman Pass, and possibly other locations, according to Brenda Wilmore, fire ecologist in the White River National Forest.The fire is burning in a small group of spruce fir trees less than one mile into the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness, between the Granite Lakes hiking trail and Forest Road 504 along the South Fork of the Fryingpan River. It is roughly 30 miles east of Basalt and eight miles southeast of Thomasville.The Forest Service uses naturally caused fires to reduce fuels whenever it is safe. Wilmore said this fire was a good candidate for a managed fire because it has a limited ability spread. The woods where the fire is located is surrounded mostly by scree fields, which are excellent natural fire barriers, Wilmore said.”It’s burning up pretty close to timberline so it can’t spread much higher,” she said.No restrictions have been placed by the Forest Service on use of trails or roads in the area.Managing fires requires that strict planning and documentation be outlined in a Wildland Fire Implementation plan, according to a statement released by the Forest Service. As long as weather and fire behavior are within tolerable limits, the fire will be allowed to burn within a manageable area until it naturally extinguishes itself from lack of fuel or from rain or snow.Wilmore declined to estimate the size of area the fire could eventually affect. She said there was the potential for it “spot out” or jump to other areas. Even if it does, natural barriers are expected to prevent it from spreading to large portions of the forest. Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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