Firefighters work hard to defend structures from Hayden Pass Fir - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Firefighters work hard to defend structures from Hayden Pass Fire

Posted: Jun 16, 2016 10:00 PM Updated: Jun 16, 2016 10:00 PM

Fire crews are finally making forward progress in management of the Hayden Pass Fire burning in Fremont County, as they reached 20 percent containment Saturday.

The newest section of containment came on the east side of the fire near Fox Creek and Mozier Creek, largely because of air tanker drops and a lot of hard work by the 800 plus firefighters on the ground.

Defensive efforts continued in the meantime, particularly on the north and west side of the fire near Cutty's Resort. News 5 crew got an up close look at their work Saturday, when weather conditions made firefighting that much more of a challenge.

"Red flag today, so we're real worried and stepping up our defenses," Firefighter Dan Baker said.

At Cutty's Resort, their best defense was an elaborate sprinkler system. Firefighters spent days putting it in to be sure it was exactly right, because if not, they would have to do it all over again.

"Double the work. Not only that, but you put these structures at risk if we don't do it right the first time. We have to lay it down, check it, re-check it," a firefighter said.

Firefighting efforts have been successful so far, but keeping them going has not been easy. When asked what their biggest challenge was, Baker was quick to respond: "Water supply. The hot shots are taking care of fire itself, we're just protecting the structures," and even that takes a lot of work. "14 to 16 hour days. We're just hanging tight," he said.

Defending Cutty's Resort and other homes is a top priority. Outside of Cutty's Resort, firefighters cut down a lot of trees and brush to make fire lines. "Probably 500 to 1000 small trees," a firefighter said.

"This is a real critical area because if the fire were to scoot to the north, then we get winds that could catch us from the backdoor.  We're not going to let that happen," incident commander Jay Esperance said.

Work put in by firefighters over the past week certainly hasn't gone unnoticed. Many residents have expressed gratitude, and even some of the firefighters themselves said they are impressed by their success.

"I'm blown away. Watching it go from such a small thing with a fire on the hill to this huge operation we got going on with divisions, sections, tactical forces, dozer lines," a firefighter said. "It's powerful to watch."

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