Sylvan Fire updates: Firefighters make progress as blaze grows to 1,500 acres
Crews working to contain blaze on three sides and direct it toward Red Table Mountain
7 p.m. update: The Sylvan Fire burning 12 miles south of Eagle has grown to approximately 1,500 acres — 2.2 square miles — since it ignited Sunday afternoon.
But as of Monday evening, that growth has happened where fire crews have directed it to happen.
During a community briefing Monday evening, Justin Conrad, U.S. Forest Service Sylvan Fire management officer, said crews are working to contain the blaze on three sides and direct it toward Red Table Mountain where vegetation to fuel the blaze is sparse.
“Currently the fire is staying within the area we are intending it to stay in,” Conrad said.
According to David Boyd of the U.S. Forest Service, firefighters are making progress securing fire line on the east and west sides of the fire. The fire is burning in timber on the White River National Forest about half a mile from Sylvan Lake State Park. The cause is under investigation, but lightning is suspected.
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During the Monday briefing, Conrad noted that currently, the fire is not threatening any structures. That was an increased concern for downvalley residents who watched the fire plume grow substantially Monday afternoon. Conrad said crews are trying to use natural barriers to direct the fire away from populated areas and currently the fire is burning in a remote area.
“Firefighters are struggling with access and accessibility right now,” Conrad said.
About 75 personnel are assigned to the fire along with a light and heavy helicopter.
The White River National Forest has issued a closure order for the area around the Sylvan Fire. Campers and others recreating in Sylvan Lake State Park and much of the surrounding lands have been evacuated. There are manned road blocks along Brush Creek Road at the east/west forks south of Eagle and along Hardscrabble Road south of Gypsum.
As firefighters travel to the area to help battle the Sylvan Fire, Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek stressed it is vital to keep other traffic off roads including Crooked Creek Pass, Eagle-Thomasville Road and portions of Cottonwood Pass. Full closure information is available at ecemergency.org.
“We are asking everyone who has no reason to be up there to stay out of the area,” van Beek said at the Monday briefing.
He added that arrangements have been made for livestock owners to evacuate animals from the area to the Eagle County Fairgrounds.
Crews battling the Sylvan Fire worked through much of Sunday night to create fire lines along the power line road. Firefighters reported extreme fire behavior Sunday as strong winds pushed the fire to the south and southeast.
After the fire broke out around 3:15 p.m. Sunday, it quickly grew to more than 180 acres by nightfall.
Firefighters have taken steps to protect structures at Sylvan Lake State Park. Other infrastructure at risk includes an Xcel Energy transmission cable.
Along with campers and others recreating at Sylvan Lake State Park, evacuations have included the Yeoman Park, Crooked Creek Pass dispersed camping, LEDE Reservoir and Hardscrabble areas.
As of 6:30 a.m. Monday, the upper Frying Pan from the Dam to Hagerman Pass is under pre-evacuation notice due to the fire. An evacuation center is set up at the Basalt High School (600 Southside Drive). If you choose to evacuate and need resources, go to the Basalt High School.
The town of Eagle has posted information about fire-related trail closures at TownOfEagle.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=519.
The latest information, including a map of the closure when it is available, will be posted at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7562.
The Forest Service is considering the fire a Type-III incident. Crews from Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, Eagle River Fire Protection District and the U.S. Forest Service-White River National Forest initially responded Sunday.
Firefighters on the Western Slope also responded to a wildland fire in South Routt County on Sunday, and lightning sparked small fire in North Routt County on Sunday.
John LaConte and Nate Peterson contributed reporting.