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Red Apple Fire contained but crews still working to douse flare-ups

Post Independent/Kelley Cox
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RIFLE – The 829-acre Red Apple Fire southwest of Rifle remains contained but not controlled as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Kevin Whelan, a fire prevention officer with the Rifle Fire Protection District.Crews are still working to extinguish lingering hot spots and hoping for a little help from the weather in order to extinguish the remaining trouble spots.”We feel as if we’ve got pretty good control of the fire,” Whelan said. “But it may take a good rain to put the fire out.”As of Tuesday, the federal Type 3 Management Team was no longer in charge, as local agencies took control of fighting the blaze. The Rifle Fire Protection District, the Interagency Fire Management Center and county and state officials are still working together to manage the fire until the “black-zone,” or burned area, is controlled, according to Whelan.”There is a big difference between a contained fire and a controlled one,” Whelan said.A contained fire is only contained within the black zone by a fire line that crews have cleared surrounding the area. The fire is not out, and areas within the black zone are still able to flare up, he said.Controlled status, according to Whelan, is when the fire has little chance of jumping the fire line surrounding the black area.”Crews are there mopping up hot spots now,” Whelan said, “and will continue to patrol the area for the next few days, maybe weeks, depending on the weather.”About 26 firefighters, a portion of whom are Juniper Valley hand crews from the Rifle Correction Center, are currently on the scene during the day patrolling for hot spots and flare-ups. These hand crews are equipped with five-gallon water packs, like “glorified super-soakers,” to extinguish existing flames and prevent sparks from spreading, Whelan said.A fire engine that holds up to 200 gallons of water, from the Rifle Fire Protection District, is still on the scene.Holy Cross Energy is working to get power back to homes in the area that lost power, and everyone who lives in the affected neighborhoods has been allowed to return to their homes. The fire burned one house and three outbuildings on Thursday. There is no update to the ongoing investigation into the cause of the fire, Whelan said.Contact John Gardner: 945-8515, ext. 535jgardner@postindependent.com


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