Forest Service, Local Firefighters Respond to Nellie Creek Fire
The 4-wheel drive access up Nellie Creek to Uncompahgre Peak Trailhead was no sooner open Wednesday, May 16, than the driver of a 1990 Toyota 4Runner with Texas license plates caused a small wildfire after the vehicle caught on fire.
Hinsdale Sheriff’s Office was notified of the blaze, located in an aspen grove approximately one-half mile up Nellie Creek, at 4:43 p.m. Wednesday.
Hinsdale County Undersheriff Justin Casey quickly enlisted aid of Lake City Fire/Rescue, the local wildland fire response team, Hinsdale Search & Rescue, and U.S. Forest Service (F.S.) firefighters led by Theo Engle and Jim Ramiriz. A command post was set up in Lake City Fire Station, manned by Andy Dozier, as a F.S. helicopter was brought in from Durango for air monitoring, and several crews of Lake City firefighters, volunteers, and F.S. personnel headed to the scene.
At a briefing at 10 p.m. Wednesday, Engle expressed relief that the fire was restricted to a 1.6-acre tract of aspen and was not near beetle-kill spruce trees. Referring to the restricted area with “minimal fire activity,” Engle was optimistic. “It’s looking pretty solid,” he said, with hopes that the fire would be contained — barring an unforeseen flareup resulting from wind — by Thursday afternoon, May 17.
Lake City and F.S. firefighters returned to the fire scene at 6 a.m. Thursday. Traffic on Henson Creek remains open, although access on the Nellie Creek road is temporarily closed.
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