Fires in national forest brought under control


— The Hinman Fire and the nearby South Fork Fire were declared under control Thursday after they burned 10 acres of blown-down trees and vegetation in the Routt National Forest about 20 miles north of Steamboat Springs.
Both fires were started by lightning during an electrical storm Monday.
The South Fork Fire burned eight acres of forest land between the south fork of the Elk River and Forest Road 443. The Hinman burned two acres on a ridge one mile southeast of the South Fork Fire.
The Yampa Valley Fire Crew and the Silver State Hot Shots from New Mexico brought the fires under control Thursday.
Diann Pipher, the Forest Service's fire information officer, said most of the crews will be released today but several firefighters will remain to "mop up and monitor" the sites for a couple of days.
Mopping up a fire means making sure that every hot spot is extinguished in the area, Pipher said. That includes turning over dirt and putting out any underground flames, along with pouring water over the insides of tree stumps to make sure nothing is burning.
Pipher said some people have questioned Forest Service officials about why they didn't let the dead wood burn in the Routt Divide Blowdown area.
Her answer is that there are valuable sites near where the fires are burning, such as camping spots, that need to be protected. The other factor in the decision not to let the fires burn was serious concern about them spreading out of control.
"We do use prescribed fires to manage the forest. But with a year like this, with hot, dry and windy conditions, things can get out of hand quickly," Pipher said. "We will always try to put out a fire as quickly as we can and we would only allow a controlled burn when conditions were just right."
A violent windstorm in October 1997 knocked down or uprooted thousands of trees in a 20,000-acre area of the Routt National Forest north of Steamboat. The storm and the area it affected have been dubbed the Routt Divide Blowdown.

To reach Larissa Keever call 871-4208


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