Soaker drenches Thompson Creek Fire near Carbondale | PostIndependent.com
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Soaker drenches Thompson Creek Fire near Carbondale

Drenching rains assisted firefighters in controlling the Thompson Creek Fire west of Carbondale.

“We’re going to call it controlled tonight,” said fire information officer Ron Gosnell Monday evening. “That means it’s very unlikely to escape the fire line, but as it dries out, people may see smoke coming from the interior.”

Fire behavior analyst Bob Irvine estimated that 0.25 inch of rain fell on the fire, soaking dry soils and vegetation.

“The rain was really pretty good for us,” Gosnell said. Rain fell on the fire most of Sunday night and until about 1 p.m. on Monday.

In fact, the steep terrain above Jerome Park where the fire is burning got so slick from rain that incident commander Joe Hartman decided not to send any crews out to build fire line on Monday.

“It’s really steep. One slip and you won’t be working tomorrow,” Gosnell said.

Most of the firefighters working on the fire were to be released Monday or today. The Lolo Hot Shots from Montana and one helicopter remain, and will mop up the perimeter of the fire over the next two or three days, Gosnell said.

After that, firefighters are expected to monitor this fire and others from the air.

On Monday night, Hartman turned the management of the fire over to a federal Type III crew led by Holly Maloney of Montana.

The fire burned 171 acres of rough country covered with pinon, juniper, Douglas fir and sagebrush. It started from a lightning strike and was first reported at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

“Nature was really working with us on that fire. It had the potential to be really bad,” said Garfield County Sheriff Tom Dalessandri.

Officials feared that high winds could push the fire west to Carbondale and the Crystal River Valley.

“We kept it so small because they hit it so hard,” Gosnell said, referring to the initial reaction from the Carbondale and Rural Volunteer Fire Department.

The Carbondale fire station has also become the planning headquarters for the firefighting effort.

Thompson Creek Road remains closed.


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