Spring Creek containment now projected for July 18
The Spring Creek Fire north of New Castle grew by 300 acres Friday and 1,400 acres Saturday due to burnouts managed by firefighters, according to fire manager Bill Swope.
Huge columns of brown and gray smoke churned upward from the planned burns Friday and late Saturday afternoon. Burnouts on Friday were “very successful,” though only partially successful Saturday.
Containment is expected July 18 with a projected size of 14,000 acres, according to fire information officer Bud Ivey.
The burnouts strengthened and widened the north and northeastern lines of the fire, which now totals 11,000 acres. In fact, the last 3,000 acres of fire growth is attributable to burnouts, said Ivey.
The fire was 60 percent contained as of Saturday evening.
A 1/2 acre fire was discovered 3 miles northwest of the Spring Creek Fire, and resources were diverted to knock the fire down, said Ivey.
Swope and his team of 202 firefighters expect to conduct more burnouts over the next few days as long as hot, dry and calm weather persists.
The burnouts prevent the fire from spreading to unburned areas within the fire line, and are being patrolled throughout the day for flare-ups.
The Spring Creek Fire is still “very active,” Swope said. Firefighters have seen small groups of trees “torching,” in which they ignite and burn from the ground up to the treetops, and fire running through the upper tree canopy.
Meanwhile, firefighters continue to mop up the southern fire boundary, dousing all hot spots.
The fire crew includes four Hot Shot crews from Estes Park, Craig and Alturas and Sacramento, Calif.
They are assisted by one fire engine, one bulldozer, six water tenders and six helicopters.
The cost of three days of helicopter assistance was added into the total price tag on the lightning-strike fire, bringing the total to $6 million.
For information, go to the website http://www.wildfires.nwcg. gov.
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