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Firefighters say Colorado wildfire damage reduced thanks to prescribed burn

How prescribed burns help fire crews during wildfire season in Colorado
How prescribed burns help fire crews during wildfire season in Colorado 02:42

The Interlaken Fire, which started last week in the high country of Colorado near Twin Lakes, is now 86% contained as of Wednesday thanks to the efforts of firefighters and a strategically placed prescribed burn from six years ago.

Reporter Spencer Wilson spoke with Jeff Ensman, who lives near the fire line. He said he first noticed smoke rising from the fire and chose to evacuate just in case. 

"We had friends in Leadville, there was so much smoke here, you could see flames, we were like 'yeah this doesn't feel right we are going to stay up with friends," he said. 


Ensman's property is located near the Flume Creek prescribed burn, which the Forest Service conducted in 2018. This controlled burn aimed to remove potential fuel sources for wildfires and protect nearby homes.

Kat Gray, a Fuels Planner with the USDA Forest Service, confirmed the effectiveness of the prescribed burn. "We can't control the topography, we can't control the weather, but the thing we can control is the fuels that are out here," Gray said. 

Ensman expressed his gratitude to firefighters for their tireless work in containing the blaze. 

"These guys are away from family, friends, they have traveled far, they are here early every morning, late every evening, absolutely, these guys are dedicated...we can't thank them enough," he said. 

He also highlighted the importance of the prescribed burn, which likely prevented a much larger disaster. 

According to Ensman, firefighters believe the early timing of the fire, due to snowpack moisture still present in the trees, also played a role in bringing it under control.

The Forest Service credits part of the success with the Interlaken Fire containment to the 120-acre prescribed burn conducted six years ago, believing that controlled burn is believed to be the reason the fire did not stretch closer or even get to homes near Twin Lakes.

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