USA — The Church’s Park wild fire near Fraser is now 70 percent contained. Now the Forest Service is looking for a man who was spotted riding a dirt bike near Crooked Creek Road last Sunday. They hope he can help investigators determine how the fire started.
One of the biggest challenges for fire crews is the number of dead trees on Sheep Mountain. Beetle kill is such a problem that firefighters can’t go inside the perimeter for fear of falling trees.
Removing trees killed by bark beetles is backbreaking work. The dead trees could easily fall and hurt someone.
Although removing the wood from the Forest Service roads and campgrounds has a lots to do with safety, there’s also another benefit of getting the wood out of there — it can help prevent wildfires.
“Especially because we’re removing all of this flammable material from the roadside. A lot of times if someone pulls their car off to the side of the road that hot engine in the grass can cause a fire, cigarette butts. Wish people weren’t littering but that happens and starts fires,” Luke Brandy with the Forest Service said.
A 21-person crew from Oregon will clear out 900 trees around the Chambers Lake campground in three days — 300 trees a day — exposed to the very danger they’re trying to protect campers from.
“The concern is the tops could break off, the whole tree could fall down on top of you,” Ron Schmelzer with Summit Forest said. “You have to always be looking up, especially when the wind picks up.”
With millions of trees infested, the focus is on those trees most likely to hurt someone or provide fuel for a roadside wildfire.
The crews in Larimer County say they are cutting larger lodgepole pines while leaving spruce, aspen, and small lodgepoles to help the forest re-grow and that in turn will also help reduce the wildfire danger.