Oak Creek Fire extinguished using helicopters

A BLM hellicopter rests in Fellin Park Tuesday afternoon after responding to a small fire on Whitehouse Mountain, just a few miles southwest of Ouray. Photo by Caleb Stento

By Jessi Marlatt

Federal firefighters responded to Whitehouse Mountain on Monday after a call of smoke was received at 3:26 p.m. BLM and Forest Service crews immediately responded to the “Oak Creek Fire” with a helicopter that was in the region after dropping water on small wildfires in Gunnison County last week.
According to Chris Barth, Fire Mitigation Specialist and Public Information Officer for the Montrose Interagency Fire Management Unit, roughly 0.1 acre burned. Crews hiked to the site, which is above 11,000 feet, on Tuesday carrying five gallon bags of water and hand tools. They found the fire to be burning in heavy dead and down trees. “There are no concerns or threats to speak of in relation to the Oak Creek Fire at this time,” said Barth on Tuesday.
The cause of the fire had not been determined at press time.

“It can be a couple of days after a lightning strike before people start seeing smoke,” said Barth. When a tree is truck by lightning the inside can smolder until it eventually gets hot enough to ignite flames, he said.
“With these smaller fires we get on them really quickly so we can take care of them before they grow,” Barth explained.
Questions can be directed to the Montrose Interagency Fire Management Unit info line at 240-1070. Information can also be accessed on Facebook (BLM-Montrose Interagency Fire Management Unit) and on twitter @MIFMU.