Firefighters fully contain wildfire in North Routt | CraigDailyPress.com

Firefighters fully contain wildfire in North Routt

Scott Franz

The 500 Fire burns in the north end of Big Red Park. Firefighters expect full containment of the fire this afternoon.

— Firefighters in North Routt County have fully contained a lightning-caused wildfire that burned about 4.5 acres just north of Big Red Park.

“It’s contained, and things are looking really good,” Sam Duerksen, the zone fire management officer for the U.S. Forest Service, said Monday afternoon.

Duerksen said crews would continue to monitor the fire.

At the height of firefighting efforts over the weekend, 35 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service and the North Routt Fire Protection District battled the wildfire.

Firefighters also were assisted by a helicopter and the state’s new multi-mission aircraft.

The fire, which was detected Friday, did not threaten any campsites or trails in the area.

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“The one thing about the fire is that it’s in really heavy, dead and down beetle-affected spruce trees,” Duerksen said. “There was a very high hazard to exposure for firefighters. It was very slow going during the initial attack period because we wanted to reduce that exposure.”

On Saturday, the multi-mission aircraft flew over the fire and took an infrared scan of the blaze that was utilized during the firefighting efforts.

A helicopter assisted firefighters Sunday.

Duerksen said it is believed the wildfire was caused by a lightning strike about a week ago.

“It kind of simmered in a subdued state until it got the right weather and fuel, and then it took off,” he said.

Dry conditions in Northwest Colorado have increased the local fire danger from moderate to high.

Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble said residents should be particularly careful with fireworks leading up to Saturday’s July Fourth holiday.

“It looks green right now, but it’s drying out fast. People really need to be cautions with the fireworks,” Struble told the Steamboat Today.

Duerksen also stressed that campers should be careful with their campfires.

Fireworks are illegal in the National Forest.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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