Mill Creek Fire northeast of Hayden cost reaches $1.2 million | CraigDailyPress.com

Mill Creek Fire northeast of Hayden cost reaches $1.2 million

Matt Stensland/Steamboat Today

Firefighters work to extinguish the Mill Creek Fire.

Routt County Emergency Management Director David "Mo" DeMorat said Wednesday costs associated with the Mill Creek Fire have approached $1.2 million, but Routt County will not be totally responsible for the bill.

The fire started July 1 about 13 miles northeast of Hayden on private land when a bulldozer caught fire, and for the first two days the county managed the fire.
The costs added up quickly.

On the first day, a large tanker dropped retardant on the fire. DeMorat said each drop cost about $14,000 or $15,000.

Single-engine aircraft were also used, and two hot shot crews were ordered.

DeMorat estimated the cost during the first two days of the fire was $80,000.
With the fire inundating local resources, the state took control of the fire July 3.
When that occurred, funding from Colorado's Emergency Fire Fund became available.

The fund was established in 1967 by counties that realized some wildfires would overwhelm their resources and be difficult to manage locally.

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Currently, 43 of Colorado's 64 counties make annual contributions to the fund.
DeMorat said Routt County contributes about $25,000 each year.

Counties with large amounts of forested acres and high property tax valuations pay the most into the fund.

The fund distributed about $2.9 million in 2016, including $1.9 to the Beaver Creek Fire in neighboring Jackson County.

Money from the fund is distributed by a committee comprised of three county commissioners, three sheriffs, two fire chiefs and the director of Colorado's Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

On Thursday, Routt County is expected to resume management of the fire, which has burned about 482 acres.

Local firefighters will then be relied on to finish putting out the fire, which DeMorat said could be completed in about two weeks.

Bureau of Land Management firefighters will also be helping because part of the fire is burning on land managed by the agency.

Ultimately, DeMorat said it is too early to know what the final cost will be to the county.

"It would really be speculating at this point," DeMorat said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland