Firefighters achieve 30 percent containment in Colo. wildfire

There are 816 firefighters battling the blaze with 48 engines, 7 seven helicopters, 6 bulldozers and other equipment

By Sarah Grasmick
The Pueblo Chieftain

HAYDEN PASS, Colo.— Some of the fire engines being used to fight the Hayden Pass Fire are expected to be relocated to other wildfires in the United States as early as Monday.

This is because firefighters are beginning to gain control of the blaze, officials said at Sunday’s news briefing.

The fire, which was caused by lightning July 8, is now 30 percent contained, incident command officials reported Sunday. “The containment happened due to a combination of (the fire) running out of fuel and having our hand crews in there,” said Jay Esperance, incident commander, adding that the containment occurred on the east portion of the fire.

Despite the containment progress, officials said it is too early to say when the 185 evacuees will be allowed back into their homes.

The fire size is 16,350 acres as of Sunday morning. There are 816 firefighters battling the blaze with 48 engines, seven helicopters, six bulldozers and other equipment.

Officials completed their structure protection strategies within the evacuated area on Saturday. “Our firefighters cleared brush, cleaned gutters, and sprinkler systems are attached to the homes,” Esperance said.

The southern portion of the blaze will be the main focus for Sunday, according to a media release.

“Three hotshot crews, supported by three engines and two dozers, are working at the 10,000-foot elevation between Balman Reservoir and Rainbow Lake,” the media release stated.

“They are digging hand lines and extinguishing hot spots discovered during overnight infrared mapping flights. Air operations will resume mid-morning (Sunday) with seven helicopters.”

Julie Bates, treasurer of the Howard Volunteer Fire Department, said the fire seems to be dying down.

“We haven’t noticed nearly as much smoke as we did the first few days,” she said Sunday.

The fire department is currently housing three evacuees. Two people staying in an RV are parked behind the station.

The department is offering three meals a day to the people staying at the department, as well as others, Bates said.

“We are providing food for the sheriff’s crew who are helping with traffic,” Bates told The Chieftain on Sunday. “There are quite a few evacuees that we know of that might be staying in a fifth-wheel (trailer) that is parked in grandma’s yard or by somebody’s shop, but they don’t have cooking facilities, so we are feeding them, too.”

She said she has seen an outpouring of support from the community.

“People are coming to help,” Bates said. “People are bringing food, calling to see what we need, people are calling to provide meals. It has been going on all week."

Copyright 2016 The Pueblo Chieftain

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