Craig Hotshots dig in |

Craig Hotshots dig in

Ben McCanna

Thirty-two Northwest Colorado firefighters and administrators have been called to duty at the Fourmile Canyon Fire in Boulder, including all 21 members of the Craig Hotshots.

"The Craig 'shots are here," said Lynn Barclay, an interagency spokesperson for the Fourmile effort, who typically serves as education and mitigation specialist for the Bureau of Land Management's Little Snake Field Office in Craig.

The fire, which began Monday morning, has burned 6,365 acres and burned or damaged 198 structures, including 169 residences, Barclay reported Thursday afternoon.

Residential areas have been the focus of the Craig Hotshots' efforts in Boulder.

On Wednesday, the firefighters conducted "point protection" along Fourmile Canyon Drive, Barclay said.

"That means they pick points of high value or high concern, and concentrate their firefighting efforts there," she said.

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By Thursday morning, the Hotshots had shifted focus from individual structures to general containment.

"They were digging a fire line south of Fourmile Canyon Road," said Barclay, of an area where homes intermingle with wilderness.

Barclay, who reported Wednesday to the fire from her BLM office in Craig, said she saw the Craig Hotshots at a briefing Thursday morning.

"I talked to Shawn Telford (superintendent of the Craig Hotshots)," Barclay said. "He told me everything was going well. They have the resources they need up there. They're just doing their job — working the line.

"Their heads are down in the dirt."

The fire was 30-percent contained by Thursday afternoon, however, Barclay said she feared overnight weather could change the situation.

"We're expecting a red-flag warning today," she said. "That means high winds and relative low humidity. That's going to test some of the fire lines that are in place."

According to the National Weather Service, winds were forecasted to reach sustained speeds of 15 to 25 miles per hour Thursday night in Boulder.

The Craig Hotshots, Barclay said, were "trying to get (fire lines) constructed as much as they can before the wind event hits."

More than 550 firefighters and administrators are involved in managing Fourmile Canyon Fire.

In addition to the Craig Hotshots, the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center sent four ad-

ministrators — including Barclay — to Boulder.

Dispatch also sent water tenders and personnel from West Routt Fire Department, Kremmling Fire Department, East Grand Fire Department and Snowy River Fire of Meeker to fight the fire.

Water tenders are tanker trucks that deliver water to fire engines so the engines don't have to leave the fire to refill, Barclay said.

Barclay said reports that the fire was caused by a car crashing into a propane tank are "speculative."

"The cause of the fire remains under investigation," she said.

Asked if Fourmile Canyon Fire is, as some believe, the worst blaze in Colorado history, Barclay was uncertain.

"As far as Boulder County is concerned, it's the largest fire," she said.

On Thursday night, Gov. Bill Ritter's office issued a news release that reported Ritter had authorized $200,000 in additional funding to support the response to the fire. He made $5 million available Tuesday to assist with firefighting costs.

"The Fourmile Fire has now destroyed more homes than any other blaze in Colorado history," Ritter said in the release. "It has displaced scores of families, and my administration is committed to helping those harmed by the fire get through this tremendously challenging time.

"These funds will ensure that the state can quickly and effectively respond to requests from Boulder County for emergency support for items such as public safety costs and victim assistance."

At a glance

• Thirty-two Northwest Colorado firefighters and administrators, including all 21 members of the Craig Hotshots, have been dispatched to the Fourmile Canyon Fire in Boulder.

• The Craig Hotshots have protected structures and dug a fire line south of Fourmile Canyon Road.

• Fourmile Canyon Fire began Monday morning. The cause is under investigation.

• More than 550 firefighters and administrators are involved in fighting the fire.

• Almost 200 structures have been burned or damaged, and 6,365 acres have burned, according to estimates.

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