Fire reaches 17,000 acres |

Fire reaches 17,000 acres

The Big Fish Fire near Trappers Lake in the Flat Tops has grown to about 17,000 acres.

While fire crews are continuing to let it burn in keeping with a plan to let fire play its role in the natural landscape, helicopters are being used to drop water to keep it from spreading outside its intended boundary.

Measurable precipitation coupled with higher relative humidity slowed the Big Fish and the 5,184-acre Lost Lakes fires Saturday. Fire monitoring crews were removed from remote spike camps due to severe weather forecasts for thunderstorms, lightning, rain and strong winds. However, the forecast did not materialize as predicted until late into the evening.

Because the terrain is very steep with dense down logs, ground crews are getting assistance from helicopters to keep the fire within a predetermined area. Hot Shot crews cleared vegetation in the lower part of Mirror Creek while the engine crews continued to place sprinklers and hoses along the south of the North Fork of the White River. A Sikorsky Sky Crane helicopter dropped more than 1,400 gallons of water every four minutes on the Big Fish Fire to slow it from spreading to the west of Mirror Creek.

Hoses and sprinklers also have been installed along the intended fire boundary from Paradise Creek to Mirror Creek.

The Big Fish Fire has been burning in the Flat Tops Wilderness since July 19. The Lost Lakes Fire is burning three miles to the north.

Though the fires have largely behaved as fire officials had hoped, the Big Fish Fire burned the Trappers Lake Lodge and eight other structures Aug. 16 when it advanced rapidly and crews were unable to put structure protections in place.

Some trail and other forest restrictions remain in place because of the fire. However, where public access to the fires and burned areas is possible, hunters and others continue to visit the area in significant numbers. And public officials continue to use the opportunity to educate people about managing some fires rather than trying to extinguish them.

Fire information was displayed at the Meeker Sheep Dog Trials this weekend.

Also, a group of fire managers for the Catalonian Regional Government of Spain is touring the area to learn more about what is referred to as wildland fire use management.

Cost of managing the fires has reached about $1.5 million.

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