Fire crews douse hot spots at Otter Creek fire
HEENEY – Firefighters extinguished another hot spot at the Otter Creek fire Wednesday night, one of many flare-ups crews anticipate after a fire burns through an area.
“They kind of come and go in the heat of the day,” said Eric Rebitzke, fire manager for the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit. “Sometimes they burn in a spot under the duff, but they’re not smoking. It just takes a while to get all of them.”
A crew of about six firefighters was sent to the area between Black and Surprise lakes in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Monday where a small plume of smoke rose above the heavily forested area below Dora Mountain. The fire was contained by a fire line and controlled, meaning there is no more active burning, but not officially extinguished, Rebitzke said.
Firefighters left the area Tuesday night and returned Wednesday to see if any hot spots – or duffers, as they are called by wildland firefighters – had reemerged. Another crew will go up there today to check again.
“We just keep doing it until we’re confident there are no more,” Rebitzke said.
Wildland fires often must be extinguished over a long period of time because fire can spread under the dirt and emit little smoke.
“There’s been fires before that have burned through the roots under fire lines and popped back out on the other side, and away they go,” Rebitzke said. “That’s why we keep going back to check them to make sure they’re going out.”
Fire crews responded to another report of smoke Wednesday night in the Middle Willow fire below Cathedral Peaks in the Gore Range. Officials were unable to locate smoke or fire.
“It’s either a natural out, or it’s still petering around and will have to show itself again before we jump on it,” Rebitzke said.
Firefighters got a small break Thursday with cooler temperatures and cloud cover. Summit County weather forecasts for the next few days are for cloudy skies with very little lightning and possibly some moisture. But forecasts from Vail Pass to the Utah border call for a lot of dry lightning with very little if any rainfall.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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