Fire officials will host meeting

Representatives will discuss strategy


— It might take a good snowfall to put out the fires burning in the Flat Tops Wilderness.

But firefighters aren't too concerned. They are hanging back and letting nature do the grunt work because they want the Big Fish and Lost Lakes fires to burn.

Their wait-and-see attitude toward something that has ripped through more than 21,000 acres has probably raised some eyebrows.

The U.S. Forest Service wants to alleviate any concerns about this hands-off strategy.

Representatives from the Routt and White River national forests and the fire-use management team assigned to the two blazes will hold an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Olympian Hall.

Fire managers will show videos and photos that illustrate the natural progression of the fires.

Firefighters have not tried to contain the lightning-caused fires because the Forest Service is managing them within a predetermined area.

Should flames move beyond the wilderness boundaries and encroach upon private land, crews would be called in to protect residences and other properties.

Extra crews were summoned last month to defend structures in the path of the Big Fish fire. But their efforts could not save Trappers Lake Lodge, several campgrounds and the Trappers Lake Campground from the flames. No one was injured.

The 16,300-acre Big Fish fire is burning two to three miles south of the 5,184-acre Lost Lakes fire.

Fire officials have said it is highly unlikely the fires will merge, but the two fires are being managed together within the same fixed boundaries.

Thunderstorms that bring no rain have increased fire activity and caused flames to throw embers up to 300 yards away.

Natural barriers, such as aspen stands, have slowed down the fire by forcing flames out of the treetops and onto the ground.

Some fires, helicopters and engines have been ordered to better manage the fires.

The Sarvis Creek Wilderness has reopened following full containment of the Green Creek fire. Forest users are encouraged to use caution in and around the burn area.

The 31,014-acre Mount Zirkel Complex is 70 percent contained. Fire lines have been established in the northwest and southern edges of the Hinman fire, as well as the portion of the Burn Ridge fire east of the Continental Divide.


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