Mad Creek fire sees another flare-up

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— Though the containment was in site this week for crews at the Mad Creek fire, a spot on the northern portion of the blaze flared up Thursday, motivating fire officials to do a controlled burn of 300 acres of land to try to stop the wildfire from spreading.

The hot spot burned about 10 acres in the Big Creek drainage, which is rocky, rough terrain, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Punky Moore said.

"We want to stop it from advancing over Big Creek," she said.

On Friday, crews used a helicopter to set 300 acres of downed trees on fire around Big Creek. The effort is meant to burn fuels surrounding the blaze, so the wildfire won't have a place to move to.

Because the terrain is so rough there, Moore said the controlled burn by helicopter was the safest option.

Most of the remaining 1,345 acres that have been burned are not active.

"That's the thing with this burn," Moore said. "You'd hate to say it was out in certain areas."

Because the fire is concentrated in a large portion of dead and blown down trees, it remains difficult to be sure that portions are not still burning, she said.

Crews initially responded to the Mad Creek fire on July 9, when flames sparked from a lightning strike.

It burned about 100 acres in a blowdown area near Swamp Park in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness.

The blowdown was caused by a wind storm in 1997 that blew down thousands of acres of trees in a 30-by-5-mile area.

The fire was under control a few days later.

However, an undetected hot spot from the blaze remained, which flared up on July 24.

The fire is burning about 11 miles north of Steamboat Springs and five miles east of Moon Hill.

It is about 85 percent contained and 102 people were working on it Friday.

For public safety due to the fire, Trail 1100 is closed between trails 1099 and 1170.

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