Brush Creek wildfire continues to burn | SummitDaily.com

Brush Creek wildfire continues to burn

Greg Ellison
gellison@summitdaily.com

A wildfire that started yesterday afternoon by Brush Creek Ranch, north of Silverthorne, continues to burn as over 100 firefighters attempt to contain the blaze.

Lake Dillion Fire-Rescue assistant chief Bruce Farrell said the fire was caused by extremely dry conditions. He estimated that by 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, 229 acres had been burned.

"This is one of the biggest wildfires we've had in recent years," he said.

Steve Lipsher, LDFR public information officer, said the fire was first reported just before 2 p.m. on Friday.

Downed and standing lodge pole pines were the fire's primary fuel source, Lipsher explained.

"There are danger issues due to knee-high timber," he said.

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This past summer provided ideal wildfire conditions; wet conditions existed from July through August, but were followed by a long dry spell.

"There's a lot of dense stuff on the ground," Farrell said. "Tall grasses are helping fuel the fire."

While the blaze was small at first, Lipsher said, when several thunderstorm cells rolled through the area yesterday, the situation changed quickly.

"Swirly winds caused the fire to begin burning aggressively," he said.

It's been difficult for crews on the ground to reach the seat of the fire, he explained.

Due to erratically changing winds Friday evening, fire crews had to pull back from the mountain ridge where the fire continues to burn.

On Saturday, the crews enlisted the help of two helicopters to deliver water to rugged mountainous terrain that would be problematic to reach with traditional fire tender trucks.

"Helicopters are faster and more direct," Lipsher said. "But even those are helpless sometimes."

Although it will probably take a few days to fully contain the fire, Farrell said there are more immediate objectives.

"The goal today is to take care of the slope, end the threat to the ranch and keep the fire from reaching the highway," he said.

So far crews have been successful at keeping the fire from igniting any nearby structures.

While Farrell said he doubts the fire is continuing to grow, the availability of fuels in dry trees and grasses is a wildcard.

"With more thunder cells and erratic winds it could grow again," he said.

So far there have been zero injuries and Farrell said they hope to continue the trend.

"It could be contained but it probably won't go out until snow falls, which should be fairly soon," Farrell said.

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