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Type II team is moving in

Greg Masse

A new incident management team led by Wayne Cook will take over the Coal Seam Fire today, replacing Steve Hart’s Type I firefighting team with a Type II team.

Meanwhile, on the front lines of the Coal Seam Fire Wednesday, firefighting efforts brought some good news. According to fire information officer Jim Dale, as of 4 p.m. Wednesday the fire was 90 percent contained.

The main activity on Wednesday consisted of mopping up critical portions of the line and the dismantling of spike camps near the fire. Firefighters were flown back to base camp for the night.

Today’s plan is to continue the mop up hot spots and prepare long-term fire assessment as part of the confinement strategy on the northern perimeter. The fire itself is expected to torch what officials call “interior islands” and within fir pockets surrounded by aspen trees.

Favorable weather helped firefighters’ efforts. Though winds gusted at speeds of 12 to 25 mph, they did not significantly increase the fire’s boundaries.

“I flew over the fire this morning. It’s looking good,” Dale said. “I probably saw five or six spots that were burning. One had live flames going up a tree.

“We were anticipating dry lightning, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen,” Dale said on Wednesday afternoon.

Despite the recent advances made against the fire, it is still considered extremely dangerous and firefighter safety is of concern, Wednesday’s fire summary said.

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the fire grew by 100 acres to 12,209 acres. The cost of the efforts shot up from around $5 million to $5.6 million since Tuesday night. Crews anticipate having to build 450 chains, or about 5.6 miles, of additional fire lines. On Wednesday, 385 firefighters were battling the blaze.

Those firefighters who have called Two Rivers Park home for the last week and a half will be moving out today. All remaining firefighters and related crews will relocate to Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley Campus.

The increase in costs comes from the expensive equipment, such as helicopters, used to fight the fire.

“We’re using expensive equipment to knock this thing out,” Dale said.

The National Weather Service forecast for today calls for partly cloudy skies with a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms and highs 78 to 88 degrees.

After Colorado, the state with the most acreage on fire is Georgia. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the Blackjack Bay Complex Fire at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Georgia had grown to 123,346 acres and as of early Wednesday, it was only 6 percent contained.

The Red Cross announced that control of all Red Cross disaster relief efforts for the Coal Seam Fire will be consolidated at the Roaring Fork American Red Cross branch office June 24.

Victims seeking assistance from the American Red Cross after that date can contact the Roaring Fork office, located at 118 W. Sixth St., Suite 10, in Glenwood Springs. To reach them by telephone, call 947-0400 or toll free at 1-888-545-7800.

Also, South Canyon Road and the South Canyon Landfill are open to the public.

There is a new phone number to receive updated fire information, 945-3232. Also, information can be viewed on the Web at http://www.garfield-county.com.


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