Beaver Creek Fire at Roughly 800 Acres, Zero Percent Contained
The Beaver Creek Fire grew from 500 acres in size Monday to 785 acres Tuesday morning and is expected to increase further as winds push the flames to the northeast.
The fire is zero percent contained. Fire crews are not directly engaging the fire on the Routt National Forest due to dangers presented by a significant amount of beetle-killed timber in the area.
"That's really hazardous, so we're not going to put crews right in there," says Aaron Voos of the U.S. Forest Service. "Plus, in that kind of fire, crews digging hand line wouldn't do much anyway."
Containment will not be quantified until the fire reaches some established fire lines and those lines hold, Voos says.
The fire was first reported Sunday afternoon in the Twisty Park area of northwest Jackson County, Colo., about three miles south of the Wyoming/Colorado border and north of Big Creek Lakes Campground.
Voos says the current containment strategy is focused on "backing off and drawing a bigger box" while relying on aerial support, mechanized fire line construction, structure protection measures and using roads and natural fire breaks.
Voos says the fire's continued movement to the northeast is good news for most of the 30 structures within a mile and a half of the fire, which lie near the southern boundary of the fire.
"It is moving kind of parallel to those structures right now," says Voos. "If there's any kind of shift or any gusting of the winds or spotting from the fire, then that could cause some problems."
"Right now, our crews are okay with the direction that fire's moving, just because there isn't any immediate threat to any sort of resources or structures in that area," Voos adds.
Voos says structure protection continues to be the highest priority and the focus of ground crews and engines assigned to the fire. Those personnel are setting up hoses and sprinkler systems near the structures while clearing flammable materials away from structures in order to create the largest barrier possible.
As of the start of operations Tuesday morning, Aaron Voos of the U.S. Forest Service expected staff to increase to roughly 75 later in the day and possibly 100 by Wednesday. Three helicopters continue aerial water drops as bulldozers are used to build fire lines.
The pre-evacuation notice issued by the Jackson County Sheriff's Office remains in place.
No further road or facility closures have been implemented, but several roads and campgrounds are still closed.
A large public response helped Forest Service law enforcement successfully contact the occupants of a vehicle of interest seen leaving the area where the fire started Sunday afternoon. The agency determined that vehicle was likely not involved with the start of the fire.
"However, there were some other good public information leads regarding possible suspects, things going on in the area," Voos says. "They do have some very specific vehicles that they are looking for now."
The cause of the fire remains unknown, but Voos says it's safe to say the origin of the fire is suspicious.
Anyone with information about suspicious activity near where the fire began in the Twisty Park area Sunday afternoon can contact U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Hannah Nadeau at 307-343-2335.