Spring Creek Fire gains 300 acres; fire crews contain 10 to 15 percent | PostIndependent.com

Spring Creek Fire gains 300 acres; fire crews contain 10 to 15 percent

Fire officials finally got to announce some degree of containment on the Spring Creek Fire north of New Castle Monday.

“I expect 10 to 15 percent containment tonight,” said Jim Dunn, an operations sections chief on the fire. “We’re going to make some real progress, unless the thing goes gunny-sack on us.”

The Spring Creek Fire, centered about six to eight miles due north of New Castle, is believed to have started June 21.

Crews now stationed at the incident command center at Riverside School started working it on June 25. The fire grew from 3,000 acres to 7,000 acres Friday and Saturday, but gained only 300 acres, all on the north end, on Sunday.

There have been no evacuations in the drainages north of New Castle, including East Elk Creek, and Dunn said he didn’t anticipate any.

The closest structures to the fire are at least a mile away on the Kelly Ranch at the north end of East Elk Creek, Dunn said. That’s an area where firefighters concentrated much of their efforts on Monday.

“We plan to hold that line, and put it out in the bottom,” Dunn said of the East Elk Creek Drainage. “We feel pretty good it won’t spread west or south.”

The fire was being worked by 350 firefighters and support crews, 17 fire engines, a bulldozer, four helicopters and two air tankers on Monday. Logging equipment was used for the first time Monday to cut down trees to keep flames from spreading.

“We’re doing that between Boiler Spring and Canyon Creek,” Dunn said.

Boiler Spring is northeast of New Castle, and Canyon Creek is about one mile east of that.

The lightning-strike fire, which started in the Spring Creek drainage, has made its way to the Cline Tops, and its biggest fuel is conifer. “They go up like candles,” Dunn said.

But other vegetation burns less readily, leaving a patchwork burning pattern.

Spring Creek Fire

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“It’s not all black,” Dunn said. “There’s quite a mosaic. Most of the aspen and oak didn’t burn.”

Dunn said he saw 250 elk down in a draw, laying in ash and soot where the fire had come and gone. He speculated the elk do that to get rid of ticks and bugs.

Several trails and roads are still closed in the New Castle area, including Cline Top Road and East Elk Road.

The cost to fight the Spring Creek Fire stands at $1 million.

Coal Seam Fire

The Coal Seam Fire, which started June 8, holds steady at 12,209 acres and remains at 90 percent contained.

A total of 55 personnel are assigned to the Coal Seam Fire.

The fire continues to smolder, with occasional torching of unburned pockets of spruce/fir, according an Interagency Fire Management Team press release. Crews are prepared to respond to respond as needed.

The following roads and trails in the Glenwood Springs area remain closed: Mitchell Creek Trail, No Name Trail, Grizzly Creek Trail, and Transfer Trail Road.

The press release said cooler temperatures and showers are expected by Thursday.

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