Lake County blaze 10 percent contained at 320 acres; reinforcements arrive from Maryland
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Although the Treasure Fire, burning five miles northeast of Leadville in Lake County, is low on the list of priorities, crews comprising about 120 firefighters managed to get the fire about 10 percent contained by Monday morning, when the fire was estimated at about 320 acres.
The fire started June 23 high in the montane zone of Birdseye Gulch in a mix of lodgepole, spruce and fir and is limited from spreading to the north and east by green meadows and timberline.
Fire officials believe the Treasure fire was human-caused and the exact ignition source is still under investigation. Continuous coverage of the Treasure Fire from LeadvilleToday.com. Updated info is also flowing on Twitter at the #TreasureFire hashtag.
Sunday, fire crews conducted a small burnout on the western side of the fire to reduce fuel and the intensity of the flames as part of the Forest Service’s strategy of full containment with aggressive suppression.
All the work is being done by hand crews working with shovels, chainsaws and other hand tools. The site is not accessible by engines, said Pike – San Isabel National Forest information officer Sarah Gallup.
More small burnouts of five to 10 acres were planned for Monday, Gallup said.
“They’re small, not the kind of thing you’re going to see a column of smoke from,” she said.
The fire is burning as high as 11.600 feet, which is unusual for Colorado.
“It’s an indication of how dry it is,” she said. “It’s been several decades since there’s been a fire of this size in Lake County.”
Almost all of the area affected by the fire is national forest land, with a small mining claim that has no structures on it.
The fire is not too far off Mosquito Pass Road, but it’s still taking crews about an hour to hike in. The elevation is taking a bit of a toll on a crew of reinforcements that arrived from Maryland, according to Gallup.
The new firefighters are part of a wave of crews pouring in from around the country, as several major Colorado fires continue to grow.