Spring Creek Fire doubles, not contained | PostIndependent.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Spring Creek Fire doubles, not contained

Donna Daniels

By Donna Daniels

Staff Writer

The Spring Creek Fire more than doubled in size Sunday, growing from 3,000 to 7,339 acres. The fire 12 miles north of New Castle continues to burn to the northeast in spruce and fir stands, and is 0 percent contained.

Huge plumes of smoke blanketed the sky Saturday afternoon as the fire burned in the crowns of trees in East Elk Creek, said incident commander Joe Hartman.

Hartman spoke to about 60 Elk Creek and New Castle residents Sunday afternoon at the Riverside School, where the fire camp is now located.

Much of the smoke seen Saturday came from a backfire lit by dropping pingpong balls filled with potassium permanganate mixed with ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in anti-freeze, Hartman explained.

About 9,000 balls were dropped Saturday in the Hayley Gulch area on the west side of the fire to arrest its movement in that direction. The balls are relatively slow to ignite and drop through the tree canopy, setting fire to materials on the ground.

“It makes a cooler fire and burned out areas of spruce and fir up against the aspen,” Hartman said.

Aspen is higher in moisture content than spruce and fir and will not burn readily.

“What we’re trying to do is create a buffer,” he said.

But the fire is moving slowly.

“The fire dribbles its way downhill, then runs back up. That’s how it behaves unless it’s driven by strong winds,” he said. “It doesn’t move real fast as it goes down the drainages.”

The fire remains well north of the town of New Castle and no evacuation orders have been considered as yet, he said.

“You will continue to see flames come close to homes, but it’s still a fair distance away from you,” Hartman told residents.

“We do have an evacuation plan that we will do in stages. We won’t take the whole drainage at once,” he added, referring to the residents of East Elk Creek.

“You’ll have plenty of warning, hopefully.”

Hartman also assured residents that New Castle’s potable water source in East Elk Creek was not in danger.

“The water supply intake is well south of the fire by several miles,” he said. Vegetation on the banks of the creek downstream of the fire will act as a filter to remove silt and debris from the water that comes down from the burned-over areas of the drainage.

Construction of fire line on the south side of the fire has helped keep it from running down East Elk Creek.

A total of 304 firefighters and support crew are now on the fire, Hartman said. They come from the 12 states and various federal agencies. Hartman is a forester with the Cimarron National Grassland in Kansas.

The firefighting strategy Sunday was to construct fire line on the south and east sides of the fire.

“We’re trying to keep it from reaching Canyon Creek,” Hartman said. Canyon Creek is the next major drainage to the east.

Spring Creek Fire

continued on page 9

Spring Creek Fire

continued from page 1

Firefighters held the line on the west side of the blaze in the Cline Tops area of Main Elk Creek and on the southern edge in Hayley Gulch.

Hartman also corrected an error in Sunday’s issue of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, which reported his team was to be replaced by a Type I incident team Sunday.

Hartman pointed out that a Type I crew of Hot Shot firefighters was called in Sunday, not a new incident command team.

“I know some of the crews would like to take over,” he laughed, “but we’re still here and we’re not leaving.”

Overall, Hartman said at least some parts of the fire are beginning to run out of steam.

“The west side of the fire is looking good; it’s cooling down,” he said.

Spring Creek Fire

continued from page 1

Firefighters held the line on the west side of the blaze in the Cline Tops area of Main Elk Creek and on the southern edge in Hayley Gulch.

Hartman also corrected an error in Sunday’s issue of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, which reported his team was to be replaced by a Type I incident team Sunday.

Hartman pointed out that a Type I ground crew, the Alpine Hot Shot firefighters, was called in Sunday, not a new incident command team.

“I know some of the crews would like to take over,” he laughed, “but we’re still here and we’re not leaving.”

Overall, Hartman said at least some parts of the fire are beginning to run out of steam.

“The west side of the fire is looking good; it’s cooling down,” he said.

Coal Seam Fire

Meanwhile, 55 firefighters continue to mop up the Coal Seam Fire north of Glenwood Springs, according to Forest Service spokeswoman Sue Froeschle.

“Cleaning out hot spots near the edge of the fire and in all areas that have a probability of escape is what we’re shooting for today,” said Brock Shero, operations section chief, on Sunday.

The fire, which destroyed 29 homes in Glenwood Springs on June 8, is holding steady at 12,209 acres in total size and is 90 percent contained.

Because of the fire, the Forest Service continues to keep the Mitchell Creek, No Name and Grizzly Creek trails closed, as well as the Transfer Trail Road.

Assistance for those who were impacted by the fire is available at a temporary Federal Emergency Management Agency office at 1317 Grand Ave. in Glenwood Springs. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and remains open through Saturday, July 6.

Residents may also apply for disaster assistance by calling FEMA at 1-800-621-3362.


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.
 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User