Bear Fire at Dinosaur begins to fizzle |

Bear Fire at Dinosaur begins to fizzle

Josh Nichols

Firefighters working the Bear Fire in Dinosaur National Monument were able to relax a bit Tuesday afternoon.

The 4,800-acre fire that two days ago had jumped the Yampa River and had the potential to threaten several homes north of there was 60 percent contained by the end of the day Tuesday.

Helicopters carrying 500-gallon buckets of water patrolled the area north of the river to extinguish any “hot spots” pilots could see flare up on the ground below.

“People at the park like to see fires like this,” said Information Officer Ted Pettis.

“But when it jumped the river and started threatening the subdivisions we got worried.”

On the south side of the Yampa River firefighters patrolled the edges of the charred ground and trees, which had gone up in flames last Friday.

Occasionally a “torch up” would occur within the black area south of the river, but firefighters just sat back and watched them burn.

Any green within an already burnt area of land is allowed to burn.

“We just need to ensure that we have a cold line outside of the black so the fire doesn’t spread,” Pettis said. “We bring people in to work the edges after a fire has burned through.”

Firefighters would occasionally walk into the edges of the “black” to extinguish any flames that might want to jump outside of the burnt area.

Monument Superintendent Chas Cartwright said the fire is expected to be 80 percent contained by the end of the today and 100 percent contained by Thursday.

“From a resource perspective this was a really good fire,” he said. “Having a burn occur in these extreme conditions is a hazardous situation. We hate to think of putting any firefighters in danger. The downside of a human-caused fire like this is the jeopardy people are put in, but there will be some resource benefits.”

More than 300 firefighters from Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and other parts of the West were assigned to the Bear Fire. Equipment used on the fire included three helicopters, 13 engines and seven water trucks.

A Type II Incident Management Team from Idaho, which had previously been fighting the Pifire Northwest of Meeker, coordinated the attack.

The incident management team on Tuesday warned floaters on the river to avoid the east side of the park where helicopters are using the river to dip for water.

Dinosaur National Monument remains open, but several roads have been closed including:

County Road 16 east from the junction with County Road 161.

County Road 95 north from the junction with County Road 104.

County Road 16 north from the junction with Highway 40.

County Road 14 north from the junction with Highway 40.

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