Rocky Mountain Team Black, the type 2 incident management team now managing the Lake Christine Fire operations, held a community meeting on Friday at Basalt High School, their incident command post.
Operations section chief Rob Berger described the work done to protect structures in Cattle Creek. He said crews are cutting fire hand lines by Seven Castles and the Frying Pan river to direct the fire away from homes, should it move in that direction. That work will continue on Saturday.
“We feel much better about the potential that, if the fire were to move up the Fryingpan, we’d be in good shape,” said Berger.
Berger acknowledged the increased concerns from citizens due to the fire's growth in the past couple of days. He said that fire crews will be patrolling in Basalt and El Jebel to address questions from citizens.
Shane Greer, incident command chief for Rocky Mountain Team Black, addressed attendees’ questions. He said that the fire is predicted to continue to be pushed to the northeastern direction by winds. However, rainstorms could bring downdraft winds that blow in all directions, making the exact direction difficult to predict.
Greer noted that the previous incident command team departed because the fire was burning in an area that firefighters couldn’t access, so the fire didn’t demand as many resources. As the fire continued to spread, it moved into an area that firefighters could once again access and so the second team was called in.
“The incident management teams do fourteen day rotations. Today was day one. We’ll be here for thirteen more days, or hopefully less, because we’ll have it contained,” said Greer.
Nathan Heinert, the incident meteorologist, said that they were expecting an increase in showers and thunderstorms over the fire area through Monday. The increased moisture is welcome, but with that comes the threat of gusty winds and lightning. He noted that heavy rainfall over burn scars will be monitored because of the potential for flooding and debris flow.
Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor for the White River National Forest, assured the crowd, “We’re still here,” referring to the incident management team and the coordinating agencies.
“This fire’s still going to be with us for a little while, with the fuels that are up there, but we hope we can slow things down with the resources we have,” said Fitzwilliams.
All pre-evacuation orders issued for Missouri Heights, Upper Cattle Creek and areas in miles one through seven of the Frying Pan remain in place.