BREAKING: Gutzler fire blowing smoke into Vail, but is not a cause for concern
EAGLE COUNTY — The Gutzler Fire burning in northern Eagle County is growing and blowing smoke and ash into Vail sporadically, but was not a cause for concern as of July Fourth, said Aaron Mayville with the U.S. Forest Service.
Mayville said the Vail area has been fortunate so far in avoiding the brunt of smoke from the fire, which is suspected to have started smoldering during the last week of June and has intensified. A change in winds pushed smoke into Vail on the Fourth of July, but that isn’t the only reason you may be noticing more smoke now than before, Mayville said.
“It’s a bigger fire, it’s growing every day so it’s putting more smoke up in the air,” Mayville said.
Aircraft mapping showed that the fire grew significantly from July 3-5; the July 5 mapping showed the fire to be approximately 850 acres in total, up from 100 acres on Monday.
“Due to the fuel loading, conditions and our focus on firefighter safety, we anticipate this fire will be with us for a little while,” Mayville said.
The forest service reported the fire to be burning primarily in mixed conifer and beetle-kill timber, with isolated torching and spotting in a heavy fuel load of dead and downed trees. With firefighter safety the top priority, crews are not cutting direct suppression lines on the flanks of the fire due to safety concerns with falling dead trees.
The forest service asks members of the public to be advised that fire vehicles and engines are utilizing roads like the Trough Road, Sheephorn Creek Road and Forest Road 402 for operations.
Paul Cuthbertson set out by himself around 3 p.m. Friday from the trailhead that leads up to the Polar Star Inn, according to his father, Mike, but never made it to the popular backcountry hut as a late-spring snowstorm moved in.