Efforts move to southern fires

Wildfires south of town now priority for crews

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— With the Hinman fire scheduled to be fully contained Wednesday, the Green Creek, Big Fish and Lost Lakes fires have become the firefighting priority in Routt County.

These three fires are being managed collectively by Wayne Cook's team. Almost 155 people have been assigned to work on these fires. Costs of these fires are estimated at $360,000.

Fire information officer Punky Moore for the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center said fire behavior was minimal Wednesday.

"The thing that helped us today was the recovery of the humidity overnight and the moisture that we received," Moore said. "Those were a good combination out there for less fire behavior."

The Green Creek fire 15 miles southeast of Steamboat Springs is 25 percent contained, Moore said. The perimeter of the fire did not expand from its area of 2,414 acres because of decreased fire behavior, crew efforts in hot spotting and cold trailing and continued aerial support.

There was some interior torching and creeping in the fire because of the dryness of fuels in the area. Rain often does not penetrate the forest canopy, Moore said, maintaining the area's dryness.

Full containment remains difficult because of heavy fuels, the area's limited access and the hazards presented by fire-killed trees.

The Lost Lakes fire was very quiet Wednesday, Moore said, and its area is still estimated to be about 1,650 acres. Both the Lost Lakes and Big Fish fires are southwest of Steamboat in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area.

The fires are being allowed to burn so they fulfill their natural role in the forest ecosystem.

"As we allow these fires to work for us, they are reclaiming the area to a more historic type of landscape that predates settlement," said Charley Martin, Bureau of Land Management fire ecologist.

The Hinman fire has been 1,446 acres for the past few days. Lawrence Garcia's Type II Management Team will officially hand over operations to the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District today. Seedhouse road opened at 6 p.m. Wednesday, but some trails and roads in the area will remain closed until the fire is completely controlled. These include: Lost Dog, Coulton Creek and Diamond Park roads, and Coulton Creek, Hinman Creek, Cutover and Pearl Lake trails.

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