LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Firefighters in Colorado are not only battling flames, but fighting to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I didn’t have a problem with showers. I just didn’t take one for a couple weeks. It’s okay, it’s another reason for social distancing,” Poudre Fire Authority Battalion Chief Geoff Butler joked.

(credit: CBS)

In seriousness, however, he told CBS4, fire camps were spread further away from each other this year as a precaution; and that meant, initially some things were harder to come by.

“I think one of the benefits is, especially as the fire grew to the size we’re seeing now, you end up with your resources much more proximate to their working areas,” he explained.

Butler has 25 years of service under his belt. He’s routinely helped with wildland fires, and this year he assisted crews at the Cameron Peak Fire just a couple days after it started.

(credit: Poudre Fire Authority)

“The first few days we were really trying to work with helicopters to keep it out of the Chambers Lake campground,” Butler said.

The wildfire is in dense brush area in western Larimer County, making work to suppress it especially taxing.

“One of the issues is that area the lodge pole pine up there has been hit fairly hard with mountain pine beetle so it’s going to leave a fair bit of skin in the forest there.”

And with any strong gusts, flames can flare-up, torching trees.

(credit: Poudre Fire Authority)

“Even if you have pretty good control, even if you have rain on that fire there are numerous spots along that perimeter and certainly within the interior that have that same potential.”

A fire of this magnitude requires crews to work tirelessly. Butler said this kind of fire may have a benefit in future years.

“Much of this forest, these lodge pole pines won’t regenerate underneath its own canopy so it needs these disturbances to perpetuate.”

Since fire season started, Poudre Fire Authority has sent multiple crews to keep flames at bay.

The fire, as of Tuesday evening, grew by 122 acres totaling more than 104,000 and is now 17% contained.

Jacqueline Quynh

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