Oak Creek gets help to fight wildland fires

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— The fire district that saw the most action last year in wildland fires has finally got a new truck made solely for fighting wildfires.

The Oak Creek Fire Protection District was fighting its wildfires last year with a makeshift truck that wasn't meant to stand the rigors of off-road firefighting.

"It's a decent truck, but it doesn't have the capability this one is going to," said a happy Oak Creek fire chief, Chuck Wisecup.

Routt County had asked the state Forest Service if it could spare another wildland fire truck, and the state came through. The state sent a 1952 2.5-ton truck with a military chassis meant to absorb punishment. The truck can carry 1,000 gallons of water. The makeshift truck was really a rescue truck meant to carry only 200 gallons of water.

While the county is responsible for the truck, Oak Creek gets to keep it in its small fleet.

The Oak Creek district bore the brunt of the wildfire season last year, at one point fighting three fires with a rescue truck not meant to handle the terrain.

"At the height of the season, we had three fires and the truck broke down," Wisecup said.

"Many times we had to call in Yampa's truck."

In some cases, Wisecup said they even used structural engines if the wildfire got close enough to a road.

Oak Creek firefighters spent a lot of time fighting fires near Stagecoach.

"This (new truck) will double our capabilities for fighting wildland fires," Wisecup said.

"It will save a lot of wear and tear on our other truck."

Of the $71,400 that the county gave to fire districts for fighting wildfires last year, Oak Creek received about $40,000.

The North Routt, West Routt and Yampa Fire Districts all have wildland fire trucks.

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