An inside look at the North Spring Fire and challenges firefighters are facing

Posted at 10:47 PM, Jul 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-09 00:47:39-04

The fight to control the Spring Fire continues.

Firefighters have made significant progress this weekend.

Sunday morning, fire officials announced they have containment up to 55 percent around the entire perimeter of the fire.

For the first time, News 5 got an inside look at what conditions are like for firefighters in their living quarters and out in the field, close to where they’re battling the blaze.

The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Blue Team in charge of the north side of the Spring Fire shared the challenges with getting their incident command post set up in the first place.

Thy also took took News 5 to the east and west fire perimeters they’re handling to show the challenges firefighters are faced as flames and plumes of -smoke still run across the mountainscape.

The challenges for the team handling the Spring Fire started from the first moment it became a serious threat. Other fires were already draining resources.

Jay Esperance Incident Commander, Rocky Mountain Blue Team "When we first got here, we couldn’t get a thing," said Jay Esperance, the incident commander of the Rocky Mountain Blue Team. "And you knew how that thing was raging because there were so many other fires going and we quickly became the number one priority in not only Colorado but the nation."

Resources quickly poured in after that and this command post in Walsenburg – one of three handling the Spring Fire – came together in a matter of hours.

"We went from an open field and an unoccupied school to a facility capable of supporting about a thousand firefighters in 48 hours or less," said Travis Bailey, the logistics section chief.

There, firefighters can rest in tents between shifts and in the kitchen, staff prepare a variety of meals. The food’s nutritional value,.designed to keep up with the heavy workload as they face the challenging landscape.

"Other challenges that are being faced around the fire is just terrain,"  said division supervisor trainee Amy McClave. "I mean obviously, it’s steep and rocky out there so it’s figuring out where we can safely fight this fire."

Out there in the rocky terrain, News 5 saw just how volatile conditions can be as a smoke plume billowed up in a matter of minutes on the east side of the North Spring Fire.

In this case,flames didn’t reach structures but protecting homes is another challenge.

"We got dry fuels, mother nature’s in charge," added Esperance. "Second thing that makes it challenging is the fact that we have houses scattered throughout the whole fire."

Crews also continue to protect structures by air with help from large air tankers and Chinook helicopters.

The goal is to get this fire under control to the point where folks can return home. The North Spring Fire is at 40 percent containment out of the total 55 percent containment for the entire Spring Fire.