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Spring Creek Fire grows past 3,000 acres, Type I team arrives today

Greg Masse

The Spring Creek fire became the No. 2 wildfire priority in the state Friday, prompting fire officials to upgrade from a Type II to a Type I firefighting team. The Alpine Hotshots, a Type I firefighting team out of Rocky Mountain National Park here in Colorado, were getting set Saturday to take over management of the fire. They will take over today.

On Saturday there were 289 people fighting the fire and that number is expected to grow today.

Although a large plume of smoke could be seen billowing into the sky from many vantage points throughout the area Saturday afternoon, the fire forced no evacuations Saturday, nor were any expected.

The smoke, fire experts said, was mainly from materials such as trees and brush being consumed within the perimeter.

But it did grow.

According to reports, between Friday and Saturday, the fire increased from 1,600 acres to more than 3,000, and there was still no containment.

While there was no immediate need for evacuations, 62 homes and 40 outbuildings were still listed as being threatened.

There is also concern about New Castle’s water supply, East Elk Creek. Crews were doing all they could through slurry and water drops to protect the watershed, the National Wildfire Coordinating Group website said.

The wind was pushing the fire to the north and east through other area drainages. The fire didn’t make any significant moves to the south, but the fire appeared closer to area residents because of the merge of the spot fires with the main fire, the website said.

The spot fire that was burning on the west side of East Elk Creek burned into the main body of the fire on Saturday, creating one large fire.

The smoke also came from a burnout that started around 10 a.m. Saturday.

Helicopters from the Coal Seam Fire were assisting with the Spring Creek Fire Saturday. The two fires are just a few miles apart.

Because of an official closure, security was in place Saturday on Forest Road 603. Also, access is limited to firefighters and residents on East Elk Creek Road.

A public meeting will be held today at 3 p.m. at the Riverside Middle School in New Castle.

According to firefighters, the fire was still difficult to fight because it was burning in steep rocky terrain that’s inaccessible to ground crews.

Structural engines remained in the Elk Creek areas Saturday and were set to patrol the area through the night.

The total cost of the Spring Creek fire through Saturday was $544,000.


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