Valley responds to New Castle wildfire
NEW CASTLE Firefighters from the Roaring Fork Valley joined more than 280 personnel from more than a dozen agencies fighting the New Castle wildfire. The Aspen Volunteer Fire Department sent an engine to the fire, with five firefighters working 12-hour shifts performing structure protection near Canyon Creek Road and backing up ground crews.Deputy chief Rick Balentine said the crew will be released at 8 a.m. Thursday, when a federal interagency command team takes over.”They made good progress today,” said Bureau of Land Management spokesman David Boyd on Wednesday. “Through hand crews and retardant drops, they have the fire basically circled.”Aspen firefighters Blair Eliot, Bruce Bradshaw, Ken Josselyn, Capt. Kevin Smiddy and Balentine first responded after high winds caused the fire to burn out of control and forced evacuation of the area.Four engines responded from Snowmass, Basalt, Carbondale and Aspen. Two brush trucks, basically 300-gallon water trucks, also traveled from Snowmass and Basalt for closer-in firefighting. “They can get in and get out fast,” Basalt firefighter Steve Sandoval said of the brush trucks. “They’re cutting a line; they have the hose out hitting hot spots.”Balentine said all the area firefighters have experience fighting wildland fires. He said fire conditions were ripe in New Castle: hot and windy. “We were foaming some houses and watering down roofs,” Balentine said. “There are a lot of houses in those draws and places that were nondefensible. If the fire had come through, there would have been nothing to do.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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The skier, who was on vacation with his family, was found unresponsive at the base of a tree and “was pronounced deceased at the Sunlight ski patrol first-aid room.”