Coal Seam firefight focus is on protecting city’s drinking water |

Coal Seam firefight focus is on protecting city’s drinking water

The Coal Seam Fire is 90 percent contained, as wary firefighters pay particular attention to protecting No Name Creek, Glenwood Springs’ primary water source.

Firefighters are stationed along the creek, keeping a close eye on the fire, said fire information officer Jim Dale. “It is not giving us any indication that it will make a run, but No Name is a high priority.”

Dale said it’s important to keep the fire away from No Name Creek because excessive ash in the water could affect the city’s water treatment plant. A fire along No Name Creek could destroy vegetation that keeps soils in place and out of the creek.

The fire’s south side has been contained, Dale said, although one 20-member crew, with an engine, is monitoring a hillside up South Canyon that keeps burning in spots.

“It is about halfway up a hill where there isn’t any green vegetation,” Dale said. “It’s been creeping around for several days.”

Crews are still busy monitoring numerous hot spots. Dale said one engine crew member on Sunday put water in a hole where a hot spot was reported.

“He said the water began to boil shortly after being pumped on the site,” Dale said.

A total of 119 firefighters and management team members are now in their third week on the Coal Seam Fire, which has burned a 12,209-acre area since erupting on June 8.

Dale said two crews of 20 members each worked the fire’s north end on Monday.

The north end crews were aided by a helicopter that can drop 1,600 gallons of water from a tank and a smaller helicopter that hauls water in a hanging bucket. Six engine crews, one bulldozer, one backhoe and a reconnaissance helicopter are also working the fire.

Dale said wildfires that erupted elsewhere across the West in recent days will not affect the resources dedicated to containing the Coal Seam Fire.

The fire’s north end is proving the hardest to fight because access is so difficult. “It’s really rough country. We’re using air support to keep it from spreading,” Dale said.

Dale said scattered burning continues in conifer stands north of Glenwood Springs, and islands of unburned fuel within the control lines continue to flare up.

“Aspen stands will be used as natural barriers in appropriate locations,” Dale continued. “There’s enough green vegetation with aspen to stop the fire dead in its tracks.”

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