Dry lighting still triggering small fires on Colorado Western Slope
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Firefighters have been able to contain a number of lightning-caused wildfires on the Western Slope of Colorado, including the Wrigley Fire and the Long Mesa Fire, burning in the BLM’s Black Canyon Wilderness area.
Elsewhere on the Western Slope, crews are still responding to reports of smoke and smaller fires, scattered primarily over the west and central zones, as thunderstorms continue to spark small blazes in dry fuel.
Suppression work on the Long Mesa Fire advanced using ground crews and helicopter assistance for logistics and some “bucket drops” of water. Better visibility and more accurate mapping capabilities reduced the affected area for this fire to 150 acres. Three crews continue to work on the fire in rough, rugged and remote terrain.
The Uniweep Fire Module along with helicopter support made progress on the Ute Mountain fire, located about 6 miles northwest of Gateway. The fire was last reported at 5 acres in size.
The weather forecast calls for continued heating and drying during the morning and afternoon, with thunderstorms and scattered precipitation to move through the area in the late afternoon. Additional initial attack and smoke reports are anticipated from Tuesday’s storms.
Local crews from Summit County are helping out on several regional fires, including
the Fairfield Creek Fire in Nebraska.
The Fairfield Creek Fire, only 15 percent contained and burning in timber and grass, has reached 50,000 acres and is showing active fire behavior, including long-range spotting and crowning.
“We always like to help our our neighbors throughout the state and the region when they are in need and when our own fire danger is a moderate level,” said Lake Dillon Fire Chief Dave Parmley. “We know that if we’re ever strapped for resources, they will gladly return the favor.”
When local firefighters are requested out of the region by federal fire managers, the federal government picks up the cost of their wages and expenses, as well as the cost to fill their normal shifts. For smaller departments, working on bigger wildfires also provides the firefighters with invaluable training and experience to bring back home, said Red, White & Blue Chief Lori Miller.