Pre-Evacuation orders for Duck Pond Fire rescinded, U.S. Highway 6 to reopen
Fire is 60% contained at 88 acres
UPDATE (5:29 p.m. Monday, April 18): All Pre-Evac orders for the Duck Pond Fire have been rescinded, according to EC Alerta. Fire-related closures on Highway 6 will be removed at 7 p.m. Monday.
A little more than 24 hours after the Duck Pond Fire ignited, displaced residents were allowed to return to their evacuated homes on Sunday night.
“Overall it was a really good, successful day for the firefighters out there,” Hugh Fairfield-Smith, Type 3 incident commander trainee announced on the Eagle County PIO Facebook Page. “They were able to continue to mop up and secure the area to continue to make sure that was safe for residents in the entire subdivision.”
“The fire is in the river corridor really only, so it burned right up to the tracks and has not gone on to the south side of the railroad tracks, and that was a good news for us as firefighters,” Fairfield-Smith said. “We are working with Union Pacific to help get water on the railroad tracks there to help keep that at bay. It did burn right up to the homes, right on the edge of the river there, and again no structures were lost so that was another great win there.”
All evacuated residents will be allowed to return to their homes as of 6 p.m. Officials will be asking proof of residency to keep the area clear, according to Sheriff James Van Beek.
”We know this was not easy,” Van Beek said, “and we also want to remind everyone that this is not completely over. While the crews have done a tremendous job of getting this fire down, you are able to return to your homes but we’re asking that you keep your bags packed just in case.“
Fairfield-Smith said the fire was held at 88 acres throughout the day and is 60% contained without any structures lost. Highway 6 will remain closed from the east side of River Dance to Yorkview to allow crews access.
As for the air quality of the surrounding area, Fairfield-Smith says it will be smoky for some time. “The fire is in a smoldering phase … There are lots of cottonwoods that caught fire in this situation so those are actually going to burn and smoke for quite some time,” he said.
As firefighters made progress throughout the day, so did the investigation into its cause.
“This fire was human caused,” Fairfield-Smith said. “An investigation is ongoing to determine the details. We do want to reiterate this was not a prescribed fire loss. There were no prescribed fire operations going on at time of ignition.”
For residents returning to their homes, there are still elements of caution.
“There are still a lot of hazards out there you need to be aware of,” Gypsum Fire Protection District Fire Chief Justin Kirkland said. “We have a lot of hose still on the ground, a lot appliances out there, please leave those alone, we do need them to stay where they are in case something changes.”
“We want to make sure everybody stays on their private property. Don’t go into the fire area or onto that BLM land there are lots of hazards such as trees that could fall down, limbs that might come down, there are holes in the ground covered by ash, you might even have wildlife out there that has been disrupted and might be a danger,” Kirkland said.
Kirkland ended by thanking the crews near and far who rallied together to help his community.
“We also want to say ‘thank you‘ to all the fire crews that came in, the law enforcement, the public works … This was an exceptional response by all of your responders, public works crews and everyone involved. There’s no question that lives and houses were saved based on all the responses by everybody.”