Crews respond to 20-acre wildfire near Sylvan Lake south of Eagle
EAGLE — A wildfire consumed slightly less than 20 acres southwest of Sylvan Lake on Wednesday. Although the fire initially grew very quickly, the actions of the initial response team and an aerial attack have stopped the fire from spreading.
The fire — officially called the Red Table Fire — is located in the Anton Cabin Springs Drainage, a remote area southwest of Sylvan Lake and southeast of LEDE Reservoir. It is approximately 12 miles south of Eagle.
According to Greater Eagle Fire Protection District Chief Kurt Vogel, the fire was first reported shortly after noon and local fire crews were dispatched to the site between 12:30 and 1 p.m.
“The park rangers (at Sylvan Lake State Park) were the ones who first saw the smoke,” said Vogel.
Vogel said initial reports estimated the size of the fire at 1.5 acres and local crews from Eagle and Gypsum initially went out to battle the wildfire.
“Then the fire weather changed and we weren’t comfortable with having people up there,” said Vogel.
By midafternoon, the U.S. Forest Service had assumed control of the fight. Air tankers from Grand Junction were called in and made several slurry drops by 4 p.m.
According to the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit, after receiving a report of smoke and flames in the area, dispatch immediately launched an initial air attack and one engine.
One engine and one helicopter arrived by 3:30 p.m. and two Type 2 hand crews were en route to the fire. Three heavy air tankers were dispatched to the area along with smaller, two-seat planes. Eight smoke jumpers were dispatched out of Grand Junction. One Type 1 hand crew also was dispatched.
Hot, dry and windy conditions contributed to increased fire danger, and red flag warnings have been present in the area throughout the week and are expected to persist.
Sylvan Lake Campers warned, not evacuated
Campers at Sylvan Lake were warned that they might be evacuated from the area, but prevailing winds pushed the fire away from the lake camping area. Shortly after 3:30 p.m. crews from Colorado Parks and Wildlife shut down vehicle access to Sylvan Lake. People who had already set up campsites in the area were allowed to return to their belongings, but other vehicles were turned back at the Y-intersection at the fork of East Brush Creek and West Brush Creek.
Emergency personnel spent the night in the area and approximately 100 people from several jurisdictions including the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Greater Eagle Fire Protection District and Gypsum Fire Protection District bedded down at one of the day-use areas at Sylvan Lake to monitor the fire overnight.
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The tragic incident left a nearby camper wondering if more could be done to remove dead-standing trees from popular camping areas.