More valley firefighters deployed to fires around West |

More valley firefighters deployed to fires around West

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Basalt firefighter Duane Vasten stands in the door of a Basalt fire engine while Greg Bailey is on the ground while heling fight a fire in late August in California. They were 'holding' — keeping an intentionally set fire from jumping a road while burning up fuels to prevent an uncontrolled fire from spreading.
Basalt Fire Department/courtesy photo |

Another crew from the Roaring Fork Valley departed to fight a fire Sunday as federal resources are getting stretched thin and calling for help battling blazes in the West.

Basalt Deputy Fire Chief Pete Bradshaw and firefighters Duane Vasten and John Schneier took an engine with them to help fight the West Fork Fish Creek Fire northwest of Missoula, Montana, according to Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson.

“It’s pretty new,” Thompson said of the fire. “It just blew up and burned down some houses and other structures.”

The fire had grown to 12,000 acres early Monday.

One engine with a crew of three, which included Vasten, was deployed to California earlier in August. They returned to Basalt late last week.

Schneier was assisting a crew from Aspen Volunteer Fire Department that also was in California and returned late last week.

Two other Basalt firefighters remain on separate fire details. Steve Howard is in Washington helping fight the Kaniksu Complex Fire. Kyle Ryan is assisting a crew at a fire in California.

Thompson said the team from Basalt that was deployed to California earlier in August was used every day to burn fuels at the head of the wildfire. They were regularly positioned at some natural firebreak, such as a road, to burn the fuels ahead of the uncontrolled fire to try to slow momentum and growth.

“Most often this is done at night when winds are light, humidity is higher,” Thompson said.

It’s tough to explain to people that firefighting often requires using fire rather than water, Thompson said.

Thompson, who also is fire chief in Snowmass Village, said two firefighters from there also saw action around the West. Maureen McPhee worked on a fire in Glacier National Park for two weeks, took a two-day break, then was assigned to a fire in northern Idaho for another two weeks. She returned to Snowmass Village last week.

Todd Fetter, a paramedic and firefighter, joined a group that was assigned to Oregon last week.

Thompson said he listed a Snowmass Village fire engine and crew as available Monday morning on the federal directory for resources. It will likely be called into duty in a “day or two,” he said.


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