Dateline Rocky Mountains: In northern Colorado yesterday, firefighters were pulled back from the Beaver Creek fire into safety zones. Hot, humid weather along the central Wyoming border has been responsible for the high winds and erratic fires the burned over 500 acres. Since it began near Walden, Colorado on June 19, the Beaver Creek fire has burned over twenty-six thousand acres.
Fire command requested additional aircraft Wednesday, including helicopters, a heavy tanker and single-engine air tankers. The Beaver Creek Fire is moving north of Walden and into Wyoming. It has burned 26,067 acres and is 12 percent contained. There are approximately three hundred and fifty personnel working to steer fire around Parsons Draw and suppress fires where possible.
According to the Forest Service, the fire is burning rapidly due to the dead pine trees, destroyed by pine-bore beetles. The infested trees blow over and drop unsafe amounts of litter, making the forest unsafe for firefighters. This is one reason the Incident Management Team is allowing the fire to occur naturally while focusing their resources on structures and other values at risk. The man fuel is dead lodgepole stands and others including grass, understory, and brush. There is limited access to the fires’ edge and multiple driving hazards due to remote roads with domestic vehicle traffic.
All personnel on the fire, about 350, work a 14 day stint. The work schedule is everyday 0600-2200, with some now working through the night, as well as a swing shift. All personnel work 16 hrs a day, seven days a week and many have multiple responsibilities. Jeff Ferragi serves as the paramedic for all personnel and explained how his jobs occasionally change. “Today I have an additional role as a “lookout” for changing fire behavior with specific structures to watch in case the fire approaches. I’m also a radio relay because of my post on a high ridge (Battle Ridge). This fire is forecast to burn into October. I’ve already gotten an extension on my contract to 21 days, I’m then required to take a 2 day R&R before I return.”
Active fire exists along the perimeter and is consuming unburned areas within the interior of the fire. Hot, dry conditions in the area should continue to support increased fire activity. Feraggi went on to exclaim, “It’s insane. The scale of this thing is hard to perceive. Today’s forecast is a Haines index of 6 (the highest rating for wild fire conditions) with extreme fire conditions.”
Hayden Fire/ Lava Mountain Fire
There are about one hundred and fifty fire personnel working the Hayden Pass fire near Coaldale. The fire has burned about sixteen thousand acres since it started July 8 and is fifty-eight percent contained.
The Lava Mountain fire has burned almost twelve thousand acres near Dubois, Wyoming. There are nearly eight hundred personnel assigned to the fire.
We wish our best to the firefighters and rescue teams working in Colorado and Wyoming. And thank you.