The Milk Creek Fire, located about 15 miles northeast of Meeker, CO and 3.5 miles east of Yellowjacket Pass, was reported on July 4. Initial attack resources responded immediately to the fire report. The fire is now approximately five acres and slowly burning in an aspen/conifer stand. Officials are managing the fire to reduce dead and downed vegetation (fuels) within the area and to improve forest health. The White River Fire Module, specializing in these type fires, has been on the fire for the last three days and continues to monitor the burn. Their assessment is that this fire will not become large. Some growth is expected to occur in patches of subalpine fir that is surrounded by aspen and is serving as a natural barrier.
According to Blanco District Ranger Ken Coffin, “We are managing this fire to achieve forest health and fuels reduction objectives which means we will not actively suppress the fire at this time. However, for the duration of this event, we will closely monitor the fire and frequently reassess our strategy. Because this site is fairly high elevation and wet, and because we have crews and resources immediately available should we need to take a more aggressive approach and suppress the fire, we have chosen this management option.” He went on to explain, “Safety of the public and firefighters is our primary concern on any wildland fire incident. Fire fighting is a hazardous job and we always try to limit fire fighter exposure to hazards. Given the remote location of this fire, moisture we’ve received this spring and summer, and our land management objectives, we don’t believe full suppression is warranted at this time”
The Milk Creek Fire is located south of private land in-holdings within the boundary of the White River National Forest. The threat to private lands from this fire is low; however, as a contingency, fire crews have provided structure protection measures as well as numerous other protection measures in their planning.
In the coming weeks people will occasionally see smoke as the fire consumes downed woody material and standing trees. There could also be days when the fire consumes several acres and puts up a lot of smoke. Again, because this fire and available fuels are surrounded by large aspen stands, we do not expect significant growth and the risk to private property and public safety is low.