85 firefighters fighting fire north of Hayden
The Mill Creek fire north of Hayden in California Park near Pilot Knob is at zero containment, but there was limited growth Sunday.
The fire grew to about 140 acres Sunday after burning 116 acres Saturday.
“We’ve had 85 people up here fighting this fire,” Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins said early Sunday evening. “It’s gotten a little erratic on us in the past couple of hours. We’re starting to get a little wind and embers floating around.”
The fear was that those embers would start other fires.
Wiggins said the fire started after a tree fell on a bulldozer that was being used to build a preventative fire line.
The plume of smoke visible from Steamboat Springs was much smaller during the day Sunday, and cooler weather and overcast skies helped keep the fire from growing at a faster rate.
No firefighters have been injured at the fire.
“It’s still a dangerous fire,” Wiggins said. “We kind of have a grip on it. Trying to keep it where it is.”
The fire is still burning on private land, which means it is being managed locally by the Sheriff’s Office and Routt County Office of Emergency Management.
Federal resources are helping with the fire, including the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
Sunday afternoon and early evening, there was a heavy assault on the fire from the air.
A single-engine plane made six retardant drops, and a large air tanker made two drops.
“I think that definitely took a lot of wind out of the fire’s sails,” Wiggins said.
A helicopter on Sunday made 50 water drops.
Two additional firefighting crews are expected to arrive at the fire late Monday afternoon.
Fire managers are trying to keep the fire from reaching populated areas.
“If it goes north, it’s just going to go into the National Forest, but if it takes off and goes west, you get into a lot residences in Deep Creek,” Wiggins said.
The weather for the rest of the week could challenge efforts to contain the fire, as a warming trend begins.
Sunny skies are expected, with temperatures in the mid-to-high 80s.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.
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