Two hundred crew reach fire scene in forest; growth slows

Sep 30, 2015 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Bigger helicopter now employed

Fire managers on Wednesday were optimistic that they could further contain the Crooked Creek Fire 15 miles northwest of Dubois.

Recent infrared mapping put the fire at 358 acres, revising down a 400-acre estimate from Tuesday evening.

No injuries or property damage have been reported as a result of the blaze, and officials said no evacuations had been ordered as of Wednesday morning.

The fire grew quickly after being discovered Monday, but better weather and rapid response have slowed further expansion.


The number of personnel fighting the fire has doubled since Tuesday morning, reaching about 200 people from multiple local and federal agencies by Wednesday, Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Black information officer Brett Haberstick said.

His team took over oversight of the fire Tuesday from a local group.

Joining the fight Wednesday is a type-one helicopter, Haberstick said. The aircraft is larger and able to drop more water than the type-three helicopters that had been used on the fire previously.

The smaller choppers and four airplanes will continue to battle the blaze, along with five ground crews, one bulldozer, 18 fire engines, and six smoke jumpers.


Firefighters had the wild fire 10 percent contained Tuesday morning, meaning they had encircled 10 percent of the blaze's perimeter with fire breaks.

Haberstick said a bulldozer established one indirect-line fire break Tuesday a short distance from the north side of the fire. Ground crews working by hand established direct-line firebreaks along the west and southwest edges of the blaze.

"We expect to be able to continue that today on all sides of the fire," Haberstick said Wednesday. "People are optimistic ... that we'll be able to continue the successes from yesterday, but of course fighting fires -- it's not completely known. ... If there are gusts of wind that drive the fire in a particular direction, we might have to take a step back and kind of manage that as best we can."

Forecasts showed the weather should be cooperative, he added. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid 60s, with a relative humidity of 23-27 percent and wind speeds of 11-16 mph.

High wind, low humidity and heat help fires spread more quickly.


Firefighters on Wednesday also will assess and work to protect structures threatened by the blaze.

"Folks will be seeing fire crews out in neighborhoods," Haberstick said.

Dubois-area resident Joseph Schwartz first reported the fire Monday afternoon. It grew to cover 200 acres over a couple of hours and expanded further Tuesday.

The wild fire is burning in timber south of U.S. Highway 287/26 about a mile west of Sand Butte.

Road closures

No new closures were announced Wednesday, but some routes remain closed: Forest Service Road 732, FSR 542 starting about 1 mile east of its junction with FSR 532, FSR 542 and motorized trail 11.

Union Pass Road is open to local traffic only.

Dispersed camp sites in the Sheridan Oval area still are open.

A temporary flight restriction is in effect for 5 nautical miles around the fire.

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