New fires fizzle

Zirkel blaze grows slightly over weekend

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About a dozen new wildfires were reported throughout Northwest Colorado during the past few days, but all have been contained.

Most of the fires were because of lightning storms that passed through the area, said Cathy Hutton, manager of Craig Interagency Dispatch, which helps organize responses to wildland fires on public and private land in five Northwest Colorado counties.

The Wolverine Fire burning in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area continues to burn but has not grown significantly. A flyover Monday afternoon showed that the wildfire's size was about 330 acres. That's an increase of only 10 acres during the Labor Day weekend.

Cloudy weather has helped raise humidity levels and lower temperatures, keeping the fire small. However, it continues to smolder and creep, Hutton said.

"It's working on establishing itself," Hutton said. "It's still alive out there."

When and if the weather becomes drier, windier and warmer, the fire will be able to take off and burn through more beetle-killed stands of trees, she said.

The fire is being managed for fire-use, which means it is allowed to burn within predetermined parameters to benefit natural resources. It is being monitored, and if it were to threaten homes or private property, suppression efforts would be taken.

The fire is burning about 18 miles northwest of Steamboat Springs in an area popular with recreational users and hunters.

A 38,400-acre area surrounding the fire remains closed. That area includes Gilpin and Gold Creek trails, Lost Ranger Trail and South Fork Elk River Road Ro. 443.

The largest of the new fires reported during the weekend was 4 acres and was started by a bird that flew into a power transformer, Hutton said. That fire was near Dinosaur.

None of the new starts were in Routt County, she said.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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