by Amanda Stradley
This past week brought welcomed rains, cooler weather and relief to fire crews working the Silver Creek fire. Fire crews are staffed by 581 team members and the fire is 4,745 acres in size. The fire growth has slowed with the weather, allowing crews to continue suppression
efforts, and gaining containment on the perimeter of the fire. As of Thursday morning, containment is considered at 27%, mostly along the west side of Red Dirt Reservoir.
Shelly Crook, Fire Behavior Analyst for the Rocky Mountain Blue Team, reported during the Community Meeting on August 21st about the recent precipitation in comparison to past data for the area. Data is received from the remote automatic weather station, “Porcupine,” which is located approximately 8 miles south from the fire. The area of the fire shows to be significantly drier this year in comparison to prior year averages. Crook explained that the fuels in the area are very dry and “it will take a lot of rain and relative high humidity, so they aren’t so readily available to burn.” She continued discussing current precipitation levels, “we’ve had 1.8 inches of rain since this fire started, in the past 5 days we’ve had 0.7 inches versus [an average] 2.3 inches” this time of year. Overall, the average precipitation level for the area is 16.3 inches annually. Currently, this area is at 10.1 inches of precipitation and has an average of 11 inches in prior years at
Shay Rogge, Planning Operations Trainee, reported that crews continue to use bulldozers and logging equipment to strengthen fire lines near Forest Road 100, as well as constructing fire lines near Forest Roads 250 and 185. On the northeast edge of the fire, near Buffalo Park, crews have built containment lines with hose lays near spot fires. Crews
remain active near Latigo Ranch, with strong structure protection methods as
their priority. Crews continue to remove available fuels in the area and mop the
area with support crews. Crews have also constructed dozer lines
with hose lays near the Old Park and Gore Lakes area.
Once the evacuation came into effect for Old Park and Gore Lakes, the Grand County
Sheriff’s Department was able to safely evacuate the area of 200 homes, and over
100 animals in under 4 hours. Sheriff Schroetlin, thanks the community efforts along with emergency personnel and fire crews working the fire.
“Thanks to you and your fellow citizens, because when time is of the essence, everyone works together, and we’re able to accomplish those missions.”
Old Park and Gore Lakes residents have been able to return back to their homes and Latigo Ranch residents began returning earlier this week, but Latigo Ranch is still not open
to the public. The areas will remain under pre-evacuation status until further notice. As
residents return to their homes, Sheriff Schroetlin, reminds residents that fire apparatus will remain in the area and urges residents to leave them alone. Grand County Sheriff Deputies will maintain checkpoints on County Road 17, 19 and Forest Road 250 for local traffic only.
Residents can also expect to have increased patrols in the area for the safety of residents and fire crews. Where terrain allows, crews have begun fire line repair to improve drainage and prevent runoff. Crews also plan on staying after the fire has been contained to rehabilitate the area. Jay Esperance, Incident Command, assures community members that they “have a responsibility of rehabilitation of any damage caused by the firefighters, to help in manning fences they broke, and erosion control.”
Esperance encourages local community members to volunteer for the Kremmling Fire Department, as the department relies on and needs volunteers. Esperance reminds us that these firefighters are working very hard, for minimal pay and in dangerous situations. He is very proud of all the men and women assisting in the fire and requests, “if you see them, thank them, they’re doing it for you.