OURAY – A lightning-sparked wildfire near Ironton Park south of Ouray is believed to be contained at late Tuesday evening, following a quick and aggressive response by the Ouray Volunteer Fire Department, aided by U.S. Forest Service firefighting crews and at least two helicopters.
The fire was spotted from Highway 550 on National Forest land above Crystal Lake Reservoir at around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, according to Ouray Fire Chief Trevor Latta.
A hardy crew of firefighters from the OVFD hiked on foot up the steep Full Moon Trail into the fire sight at around 10,750 feet, and took on the initial suppression effort. Later, the Forest Service crews arrived on site and took over the mission and the Ouray crew went home.
“It was a lightning strike that turned into a full-fledged fire in a mix of aspen and pine,” said Latta. “Some of the fire was in beetle kill which would torch and you’d see flames over 100 feet high. Then it would lay down a little.”
Latta estimated that the fire spread to about two acres before it was suppressed. Firefighting helicopters dipped water out of Crystal Lake and dropped it on the fire, helping to extinguish it.
“It was a really fast response,” Latta said. “They [the USFS firefighters] got it knocked down this evening and will remain on site to monitor the situation.”
Craig Kaminsky of the OVFD vividly described today’s successful firefighting effort: “We hauled ass 1,500 feet up that hill, established a line around the fire and helped establish the necessary containment for the Forest Service crews and ‘copters that came later,” he said. “The ‘copters were able to start dumping tons of water on it. There is nothing like the sounds and sight of a ‘copter bringing water to the fire! Proud of the crew ... we did an excellent job."
Several other lightning strike fires were also extinguished earlier on Tuesday in other parts of the county.
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