Grizzly Creek Fire at 82% containment, still holding at 32,464 acres; pre-evacuations lifted for much of perimeter | VailDaily.com
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Grizzly Creek Fire at 82% containment, still holding at 32,464 acres; pre-evacuations lifted for much of perimeter

Smoke has been visible on parts of the Grizzly Creek Fire, and may continue to be visible due to pockets of fuel in the interior of the control line that continue to burn out. Courtesy U.S. Forest Service

Containment on the Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon reached 82% on Wednesday, an increase of 7%.

For the fourth straight day, there was no increase in acreage, Incident Commander Norm McDonald said in a Thursday morning update.

Crews have now secured approximately 64.5 of the 78.5-mile fire perimeter, he said.

“With warmer, drier conditions, the fire showed a slight pulse on Wednesday with a few visible, early-morning smokes in the French Creek drainage on the north side,” McDonald said in the morning operations update. “The smoke was the result of pockets of isolated, unburned patches of conifers burning up on the interior of the fire.”

The interior burn areas posed no threat, he said.

“It’s a good indicator of what we’ll be seeing over the next four or five days,” Alaska IMT Operations Chief Jon Glover said, alluding to a warming, drying trend that is expected to spawn interior flare-ups of unburned fuel the next few days.

According to the morning update, the increased containment – or black line – is the result of three hotshot crews finally securing a piece of rugged, stubborn line in the steep No Name Creek drainage north of Glenwood Springs that they have been toiling on for the past week.

Reaching containment on that challenging line area was a major accomplishment, said Deputy Incident Commander Tom Kurth, and helps decrease the potential of the fire moving out of the No Name Creek drainage and wrapping south toward Glenwood Springs.

That has been a primary concern for fire managers.

Pre-evacuations lifted

On Wednesday, Garfield and Eagle County residents who had been under pre-evacuation orders for weeks from the Grizzly Creek Fire got some good news.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, working with the Alaska Type 1 Incident Management Team, lifted evacuation and pre-evacuation orders for all of Lookout Mountain, Spring Valley Ranch, High Aspen, Homestead Estates, Coulter Meadows, Bair Ranch and Crystal River Ranch residents.

Pre-Evacuation orders are still in place for the residents of No Name, due primarily to weather concerns for a potential debris flow and associated flooding that might occur, according to a Garfield Sheriff’s press release.

Also, Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek lifted all orders at noon Wednesday, according to Jessie Porter with the sheriff’s office. That includes pre-evacuation orders for the areas of Coulter Creek and Buck Point Drive in the western end of the county. Coffee Pot Road remains closed to public, non-residential access.

Recreation restrictions still in effect

With the operational campaign switching over to mop up and suppression repair, fire managers remind hunters and recreationalists that a road and trail closure remains in place across much of the White River National Forest and on select BLM lands.

There have been several instances recently where firefighters have encountered mountain bikers in closure areas, incident officials said on Wednesday. That creates a dangerous situation for firefighters, heavy equipment operators and mountain bikers on the narrow, twisty trails and roads in the Coffee Pot Road, Cottonwood Pass and Red Canyon areas. 

“There are hundreds of miles of trails that remain open to mountain biking outside the closure area,” McDonald noted. “Out of respect for firefighter and public safety, we ask mountain bikers to adhere to the closures. The last thing we want is a surprise encounter between a mountain biker and a piece of heavy equipment.”


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