The Aspen Fire has charred 22,172 acres and is 85 percent contained, but the big show is pretty much over -- and that's a good thing. The incident team that's been running the operation for over two weeks is planning on leaving Saturday, turning the smoldering wildfire over to forest officials. "There's very little smoke and businesses are open," said Gary Wuchner, a fire information officer. "Everybody's very happy, it seems; there are clear skies again."
The blaze began Monday, July 22 during a lightning storm within rugged terrain of Sierra National Forest. Located near small mountain communities like Big Creek, teams both on the ground and in the air went into full suppression mode. At its height, over 2,000 people were working on the effort, which so far has cost close to $28 million.
As the Aspen Fire cools down and other fires light up elsewhere, the team is demobilizing and readying for redeployment. Just over 900 people remain and that number will drop over the weekend.
A fourth minor injury -- a back strain -- has been reported. With 600,000 hours of manpower put in, a handful of minor injuries is a good sign things went well, noted Wuchner.
Stump Springs Road remains closed, as well as all trails in Kaiser Wilderness and two campgrounds -- Sample Meadow and West Kaiser.
The fire will likely continue to burn and creep within Kaiser Wilderness over the next few months until the first significant rain or snow storm of the winter season. Until then, light smoke may continue in the area.