It only began Monday afternoon, but quickly got its own name– the Grand Hogback Fire. As of last night, it’s been declared 50 percent contained by firefighters battling it, just south of I-70, near Garfield County Road 335. No buildings were threatened and no one got hurt, but more than a hundred acres got scorched, firefighters using air drops of slurry and water through the holiday to keep the fire relatively small. That operation’s now said to be drawing to a close. The Post-Independent reports a Sheriff’s department estimate that the cost of fighting this fire will probably rise to more than $100,000.
What quickly became known as the Clark Creek Fire, near New Castle, was 80% contained Tuesday afternoon and full containment was anticipated by last night, according to the White River National Forest. A hand crew, 1 group of hot shot firefighters, a helicopter, and 4 fire engines have been at that scene since Monday, as water bucket drops have helped keep that fire down to only about 5 acres in size. Crews are expected to keep monitoring, making sure the fire doesn’t restart or spread.
White River National Forest officials also tell us efforts continue over in northern Eagle County, near the borders with both Summit and Grand Counties, to suppress the so-called Gutzler fire, about 14 miles southwest of Kremmling. It’s grown to a little over 300 acres, as that blaze continues, mostly among dead trees killed by the beetle infestation of a few years ago. Rangers say they got a better idea as to how that fire’s going to behave over the holiday, but due to terrain, the amount of fuel available, and more, they believe it may still be around a while. No buildings or people there are currently being threatened by the flames, but a home and some ranch buildings about a mile east of it are being monitored and patrolled. Water drops and visual reconnaissance by helicopter are continuing in that area today.
The death of 67-year-old Aspen homeowner David Duff from Chavies, Kentucky has been ruled an accident by the Pitkin County Coroner’s office. Duff broke his neck Monday while mountain biking down the Snowmass Ski Area’s Valhalla trail. Officials say early that afternoon, Duff went over a jump, and lost control, landing on a 2nd jump. He’s said to have suffered numerous injuries in the crash, but the neck injury was the fatal one. Passersby came upon Duff and tried to do CPR before mountain rangers and paramedics arrived. The Aspen Skiing Company offered condolences and prayers to Duff’s family. They say the former coal company executive’s death is the first since Snowmass began offering lift-served mountain bike riding. Duff had owned a $15 million house on McClain Flats Road the last 5 years.
We told you before the holiday about a couple back-to-back incidents Mountain Rescue Aspen was called to on Saturday… both those victims, an injured hiker and one who’d suffered altitude sickness, being taken to Aspen Valley Hospital for treatment. Around midday Monday, another hiker found herself in need of aid. This time, it was a 54-year-old woman who’d broken her ankle. Rescuers got to the scene on the Ute Trail within about an hour, and put their team together to carry the woman down to a waiting ambulance. She got treatment at AVH as well.
You may have seen the video– an engine on Sunday’s United Express flight 5869 from Aspen bursting into flames after landing safely in Denver, passengers being evacuated, none of the 59 hurt. Initial reports to the FAA indicate it might’ve started with a fire in one of the plane’s tires that spread to the engine. Federal officials continue to investigate.
If you missed some of our stories or just want to read them for yourself, they’re all posted at ksno dot net. I’m Jim Williams, KSNO News. There’s more of the Morning Roundabout, including Meteorologist Don Day’s complete extended forecast, on the way next.