The community was invited to a meeting hosted at the Rio Theatre on Helper’s Main Street to hear first-hand information regarding the Bear Fire.
The meeting began with the Public Information Officer from the California Team 10, who stated that the team came to assist with the fire last Thursday and took command of it on Friday. The purpose of the meeting, according to the officer, was to talk about what is happening with the fire thus far.
She then introduced Chris Deets, who is the Fire Management Officer for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Vernal Field Office. He stated that the fire started on a Tuesday around 2 p.m. Initially, state, forest and two BLM engines were dispatched. Due to wind, there was no ability for aviation support.
Given the circumstances, it was anticipated that the fire was going to grow quickly. With the conditions and the local support, they were able to jump on the fire and accomplish a lot of good things.
Utah Department of National Resources Wasatch Front Area Manager Brian Trick then spoke, thanking the team that came. He stated that they were given quite a puzzle and have figured it out, though it is not quite solved yet. Trick said that they are receiving a lot of gratitude while many are asking how to donate.
He also assured that the School Lunch Program in the area is still slated to take place at the previously allotted times and they are hopeful that those that wish to utilize the program do not believe they can not attend.
Following this, Dan George, who is the Operator Section Chief for California Team 10, gave an in-depth operational update. There was a map behind George, presented to all in attendance both virtually and in person, that went up to the dozer line.
With this map, George was able to explain what was contained and what was not. He remarked that it is likely that he will get information tonight from his division to hopefully see more that has been contained. He explained that for those fighting the fire, the thought process is lives first and property second.
There is also a team working on road preparation and cleanup. For the first couple of days, George stated that they were chasing the fire. However, yesterday was very successful for them. They dropped two hot-shot, or elite, crews that go in and work to fight the fire.
“Yesterday, with some air support, we were able to go direct,” George said.
He then informed those in attendance that the smoke that was witnessed on Sunday was all within the containment lines. Beginning Monday, they will look at options of securing upper lines with helicopters, stating that now they have secured up to eight of them.
“The fire has calmed down, it’s bought us some time,” George shared.
He told the crowd that the firefighters are looking for every opportunity to go direct on the fire where it is safe for the crews. He remarked that they will not put them in a predicament that is not safe. For the next day or two, the crews will work to closely monitor the fire and see how their current monitoring plan will work out.
Following this, the floor was opened for questions from the crowd, which spanned from ways to assist the current firefighters down to if enough equipment, such as helicopters, are available.