Sylvan Fire officials don’t expect perimeter to move
Wildfire is no longer the state’s most expensive
EAGLE — Fire officials don’t expect the Sylvan Fire to expand past the 3,972 acres — nearly 6 square miles — of the burn area south of Eagle. But inside the fire’s perimeter, there is the expectation that there will be more fire activity as the area continues to dry out.
“There’s still quite s bit of fuel out there,” said Kelsha Anderson, a spokesperson with the White River National Forest.
The fire remains at 68% contained, and Anderson said it will take some time before those containment figures come up as firefighters continue to monitor the activity inside the fire lines.
On Thursday evening, Daniel Nielsen of the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit took over as incident commander of the fire, after training with the Type-3 team that had been in place since Saturday. The move downgrades the fire once again, with the fire now being considered a Type-4 incident.
At the height of the massive effort to stop the Sylvan Fire, 425 personnel were in Eagle with a Type-I management team, which had access to a large pool of resources. Resources currently assigned to the fire include 58 total personnel, including three fire modules and a light helicopter.
Also, in line with the fire’s downgraded status, Thursday’s evening update is the last planned daily update for the Sylvan Fire unless activity level changes. The fire information line at 970-462-9625 will remain open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through the weekend.
“Right now, it’s just wait-and-see how it does before they really start increasing that containment number,” Anderson said. “It takes some time, as long as there is activity, they’re going to want to continue to watch it.”
Warm, dry weather in the fire area contributed to an increase in heat and fire activity across the fire’s area Thursday. Isolated torching of individual trees within the fire perimeter occurred. Firefighters continued to hold, improve and monitor containment lines and are actively mopping up hot spots along the fire perimeter, according to the Thursday update.
Smoke or flames inside the Sylvan Fire perimeter may be visible from Forest Road 400. Crews expect to continue working hot spots within the fire perimeter through the weekend as temperatures warm and humidity remains low. The fire area may experience stronger winds Thursday evening and Friday.
Also notable: The Sylvan Fire, at a current cost of $6.79 million, is no longer the most expensive fire in the Rocky Mountain region. Costs for the Muddy Slide Fire in Routt County, which has burned 4,093 acres, are over $8 million, Anderson said Thursday.
Eagle County and White River National Forest lands will also downgrade to Stage 1 fire restrictions starting Friday, given the favorable weather conditions.
The restrictions that will be implemented and remain in place until further notice are:
- Campfires are only allowed within designated fire grates in developed campgrounds (i.e., a metal, in-ground containment structure — fire pans and rock campfire rings are not acceptable).
- No fires of any type, including charcoal, outside of developed areas.
- No smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in a barren area free of vegetation.
- No use of explosive materials, including explosive targets.
- No welding or operation of an acetylene or other similar torch with open flame, or any other spark producing device, except from an area that has been cleared of vegetation.
- No operation of any internal combustion engine without a spark-arresting device properly installed and in working order.
When there is a red-flag warning in Eagle County, this will automatically move restrictions up to the next level of fire restrictions.
More in depth information regarding the fire restrictions in Eagle County can be located at ECEmergency.org/2020/04/eagle-county-fire-restriction-info.html
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office is urging people living in and near fire-prone areas to be prepared for the worst by protecting their property through clearing brush and removing dead branches, along with many other steps that are outlined at www.FireWise.org. In addition, residents should prepare for emergency evacuation plans and make sure they have their most valuable and important possessions prepared in the event they are required to immediately leave the area.
The latest information including closure maps is available on Inciweb at Inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7562/.
For area, road, and trail closures and fire restrictions on National Forest lands, visit FS.USDA.gov/whiteriver .