Helicopters a Big Help in Red Canyon Fire Attack

Aug 15, 2013

One of two helicopters involved in fighting the Red Canyon Fire arrives at the Carbondale Fire House to refuel.
Credit Facebook/Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District

The Red Canyon Fire burning southeast of Glenwood Springs didn’t see any growth yesterday. Favorable weather and more resources allowed firefighters to get a handle on the blaze. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

So far, about 390 acres have burned in the rugged area, three miles outside of Glenwood Springs. As of yesterday evening, nearly 30 percent of the fire had been contained.

"We had some aggressive attack with two heavy tankers, two single engine air tankers, and when they were back reloading, we had two helicopters working the fire with buckets and a bulldozer, so that shows how aggressive we are with getting this fire put out."

That’s Bill Kight, the public information officer for the fire. Additional firefighters and an increased air attack helped with the blaze. Mother nature also cooperated.

"We had a little bit of wind earlier, but we didn’t have the thunderstorms over the top of the fire, blowing the fire where we didn’t want it to go, so we lucked out."

Cloud cover also helped keep the fire calm. A total of 211 people worked the fire, including firefighters digging fire lines near the blaze and pilots in the air. Helicopters were dipping buckets into a water source at a nearby farm, then unloading them on the fire. Officials say that tactic was particularly helpful.

"The two helicopters doing bucket work was very helpful and we brought a dozer in, which was very helpful and it did a lot of work."

The fire’s burning on a mix of private and public land, in steep terrain. The area on the edge of Missouri Heights is thick with pinyon and juniper trees. Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach says large fires have burned in the area before.

"That’s the one thing in my job that causes me to lose sleep is fire in Missouri Heights, that’s a big concern from us here at the fire department. We spend a lot of time and money providing wildfire crews in the Missouri Heights area every summer."

No new evacuations were ordered yesterday. Between 15 and 20 homes were evacuated Tuesday on the backside of Lookout Mountain. Those structures are still threatened, so homeowners have not yet been given the green light to go home.