Wildland fire in Snowmass Canyon contained; crews will monitor next few days | PostIndependent.com

Wildland fire in Snowmass Canyon contained; crews will monitor next few days

Helicopter spent Saturday morning making water drops, moving crews and gear

Fire crews continue to work Saturday morning on the wildland fire that started Friday in Snowmass Canyon. More than a dozen firefighters and a helicopter crew making water drops were working the fire, which was held to 0.6 acres as of Saturday morning.
David Krause / The Aspen Times

The wildland fire that started Friday afternoon in Snowmass Canyon is under control and contained Saturday evening after more than a dozen firefighters worked Saturday to douse the wildland fire that was ignited by a lightning strike.

By 6:45 p.m. Saturday, firefighters had full containment on the fire, which burned about one acre. Crews returned Saturday morning at 7 a.m. and, by mid-morning, 14 firefighters were on the steep hill north of Highway 82 working with hand tools directly around the fire and three small spot fires, said Alex Voshell, who is part of the U.S. Forest Service helicopter crew on scene.

A crew of four was at the operations center along Lower River Road north of Woody Creek, where a helicopter was stationed to make water drops and transport firefighters and gear.

With the fire contained by Saturday evening, four firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service will remain on site Sunday to finish any mop up work and monitor the area, Voshell said Saturday night.

The fire, which was ignited by a lightning strike just after 5 p.m. Friday, was estimated at 0.6 acres as of 11:40 a.m., Voshell confirmed through the incident command center. The fire was on Bureau of Land Management land, and the federal crews worked on the fire with the Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority. The local crews were released as of Saturday evening, Voshell said.

In addition to transporting gear and firefighters, the helicopter made 21 water drops Saturday morning after performing 16 Friday, said Voshell, who lives in Carbondale and is a longtime ski instructor in the winter.

He estimated 5,300 gallons of water had been dropped in total by Saturday morning, and they’ve been pulling it from a pond on a nearby ranch.

Early Saturday morning, six firefighters hiked to the site, and another eight were flown in later to a landing area about a half-mile from the fire, Voshell said.

The pilot was flying in with a smaller water bucket so the crews could more easily target the flames Saturday, Voshell added.

“That lets us get water right on the fire,” he said.

Most of western Colorado was under a red flag warning Saturday because thunderstorms, high winds and low humidity. A storm rolled through Snowmass Canyon during the afternoon Saturday to help efforts.

Another red flag warning is in effect Sunday from noon to 9 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Official again are concerned about high fire danger in western Colorado. Officials are worried about lightning associated with Sunday’s weather.

“On Sunday, conditions will become favorable for easy ignition and rapid spread of fires due to low relative humidity and strong wind gusts,” according to the NWS warning.

Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority Division Chief Richard Cornelius said Friday night they were “fairly certain” the fire was started by a lightning strike.

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