Local firefighters return from Beaver Creek
The Beaver Creek Fire in North Park continued to burn throughout the Independence Day weekend, expanding to over 13,000 acres by Tuesday morning.
The expected containment date for the fire has also been extended from early August to Saturday October 15. The federal government’s incident information system web site InciWeb states the fire is officially at five percent containment.
Over the past few weeks as the fire has expanded in size firefighting assets from Grand County were dispatched to assist in battling the blaze. Both the Grand Lake Fire Protection District and the Grand Fire Protection District in Granby sent assets to assist.
Grand Lake Fire sent a single Type 3 Engine along with two department firefighters, Paul Mintier and Lt. Blake Mertz. Assisting Mintier and Mertz on the Grand Lake engine were two Granby firefighters from the Grand Fire Protection District, Joe Starika and Ben Boucher. While working on the Beaver Creek Fire the Grand Lake Fire Engine, and assigned firefighters, provided aid on the northwest corner of the wildfire in the form of structure preparation and protection as well as hot-spot mop-ups.
Grand Fire sent a water tender truck to North Park to fight the Beaver Creek blaze. A three-person crew of firefighters from Granby operated the truck. During the course of their involvement with the Beaver Creek Fire Grand Fire sent a total of six individuals to crew the tender truck: Mike Emery, Phil Flegner, Ron Cousineau, Kyle Mussato, Meagan MacAleese and Doug Colson.
Both the Grand Lake Fire Engine and the Grand Fire water tender are back in Grand County. Grand Lake Fire’s Acting Lieutenant Mike Arntson confirmed the Grand Lake Fire Engine and associated firefighters were demobilized late last week. “They are back in District and ready to go out again if need be,” Arntson said.
Similarly the Grand Fire water tender truck was also demobilized. Grand Fire Assistant Chief Brad White explained assets from the Granby department were demobilized Monday July 4. “They were demobilized yesterday and got back in time for the parade,” White said Tuesday morning July 5. While working on the Beaver Creek Fire the Grand Fire water tender truck was assigned to a structure protection group. The truck provided supplies of water to other fire engines working to protect houses from burning.
As of Tuesday July 5 there were 270 firefighters assigned to the Beaver Creek Fire. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The region saw rainfall over the weekend, which increased moisture in the area, but by Tuesday the additional moisture had begun to evaporate. Lower humidity meant firefighters witnessed the fire’s behavior change from smoldering to open flames.
Gusty afternoon winds on Independence Day increased the fire’s activity on both the northwest and eastern sides. The fire’s surface continues to burn moderately with single-tree torching and group torching. Due to warming trends fire activity has increased and officials expect creeping, more single-tree torching and group torching with short duration runs.
Firefighters have been busy lately patrolling structures for hot spots while working to improve escape routes in the event the fire moves. According to InciWeb firefighters are, “heavily focused on rehabilitation but expect to see fire movement in the coming days as the weather transitions.”
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The Grand Lake Fire Protection District has abandoned a voter-approved effort to run its own EMS transports as the department and county officials re-evaluate how that service might be provided.