More wilderness fires expected to start today

Firefighters keep eye out as 'dry lightning' storms move in

A fire information officer for the U.S. Forest Service said there is a fire weather watch in effect today because of the dry lightning that is expected to move into the area.

"We will see more fires today," Ron Hodgson said this morning. "Just how big and where, we do not know. It all depends on where the lightning strikes."

Hodgson said crews are currently monitoring the Big Fish Fire, which continues to burn in the Trapper Lake Basin toward Paradise Creek.

Hodgson said fire crews are hoping to keep the blaze in a specific fire area near the Rio Blanco Ranch along a horse trail between ranch property and the National forest.

The blaze is currently threatening any structures, Hodgson said, which was not the case Sunday.

The fire information officer said that unexpected winds from a Canadian cold front had the fire moving faster than predicted so firefighters had to be pulled from the Trapper Lakes area. The Trapper Lodge and seven other buildings were destroyed but most of the buildings at the resort are still intact, Hodgson said.

"We don't know the exact details of why some buildings survived and some didn't," Hodgson said. "It was unusual weather."

Some 154 firefighters and support personnel, two helicopters and 16 engines are at the scene.

Hodgson said the good news is that the fire, which was estimated to have burned about 13,000 acres will bring about Aspen tree renewal and will benefit wildlife habitat in the long run.

The situation is similar to what is going on with the Hinman Fire and the Burn Ridge Fire, which are being called the Mount Zirkel Fire Complex because the same crew is being used to fight both blazes, Diann Pipher, fire information officer, said this morning.

Pipher sad the fires are not combined "but we are managing them together."

Pipher said conditions were less windy Sunday than they were on Friday and Saturday, which was good news to firefighters.

Both fires doubled in size over the weekend, Pipher said, and are spreading east into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness area.

Both fires have the potential to grow considerably as windy, dry weather persists.

The Green Creek Fire, located about five miles south of Rabbit Ears Pass, is about 45 percent contained. Crews have built a dozer line on the northeast flank to assist in protecting the Lake Agnes area, Pipher said.

Pipher said the Lost lakes Fire in the Flat Tops Wilderness area, has burned about 4,600 acres and crews are monitoring that blaze.

Pipher said crews are letting the fire take its course but would take "aggressive suppression" action if the fire were to threaten any privat property.

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