The threat of wildfire kept the Forest Service busy over the weekend, as crews of smokejumpers were deployed to a small fire in the wilderness beyond Snowmass Lake Sunday, and to a small blaze near Redstone on Friday.
A helicopter pilot reported evidence of a fire near Hargerman Peak, close to Snowmass Lake, Sunday. An unknown number of smokejumpers based out of Grand Junction were deployed to the area at around 7:30 p.m. and will camp close by until the fire is out, White River National Forest spokesman Bill Kight said.
On Friday, a hiker reported that a few trees had caught on fire in the area around East Creek and Lilly Lake, west of Redstone. The Forest Service did not get the report until later in the afternoon, but sent in a crew of four smokejumpers, to that fire also.
Smokejumpers are wildland fire fighters who are flown in to an area and jump out of planes to respond to fires as quickly as possible. They carry tools such as axes and shovels to dig lines around fires, as well as pumps that can take water from nearby creeks or use water dropped in from supply aircraft. They then walk back to civilization carrying 75-pound packs.
The team parachuted in and put out the fire, which was limited to a few trees, Kight said.
Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputy Jesse Steindler said sheriff’s office personnel have been putting extra effort into getting the word out on the Stage II fire ban, which is in effect across the region, including Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties and federal lands. The ban means no open flames are allowed, including campfires and charcoal grills. Pitkin County deputies have been extra vigilant while patrolling Prince Creek Road, the Redstone area and other county lands popular with campers, Steindler said.
People have been extremely cooperative and understanding, Steindler said, adding that he can recall just one ticket having been issued for an illegal fire in the last few weeks.
“The word is definitely out there,” he said of the fire danger.