Good weather, hard work from fire crews calm 974-acre Gutzler Fire (video) | VailDaily.com

Good weather, hard work from fire crews calm 974-acre Gutzler Fire (video)

The Gutzler fire in remote northern Eagle County is running about 974 acres, much less than previously thought. It's burning mostly dead and downed beetle-killed timber.
U.S. Forest Service |

Gutzler Fire Facts

• Lightning caused the fire, which began July 2.

• So far, 974 acres have burned.

• The fire is 20 percent contained.

• 108 fire personnel have been assigned to the location.

Source: U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management

STATE BRIDGE — The latest measurement showed the Gutzler Fire at 974 acres — a slightly smaller area than estimated over the weekend.

Firefighters have held it to that area for two days, and it’s more than 20 percent contained, said Aaron Mayville, U.S. Forest Service district ranger.

The smaller number is due to more accurate mapping, wetter weather and hard work by the 108 fire personnel assigned to fight the fire.

“As weather has precipitated a decrease in fire activity, we are beginning to reassign some of our fire resources to higher priority fires in the west,” Mayville said. “However, we will continue to staff this fire with the personnel we need to keep the forest and surrounding communities safe.”

The Gutzler Fire is burning nine miles east of State Bridge and 12 miles west of Kremmling in a remote area of Eagle County, southeast of the Trough Road. Radium campground and boat put-in remains temporarily closed due to fire operations.

The fire is burning mostly dead and downed beetle-killed timber in the White River National Forest. It’s surrounded by steep, rugged and rocky terrain, meadows and aspen groves, which create some natural fire breaks, Mayville said.

[iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/225030195?autoplay=1” width=”640” height=”360” style=”border: 0px;”]

Behaving as a fire should

Dr. Chad Hoffman is a professor of fire science at Colorado State University. He concentrates on the physics and behavior of fire and said this fire is behaving as it should.

“The ecology of those systems is to have infrequent but high severity fires. This fire is meeting those criteria. Ecologically, it’s probably not having long-term adverse effects,” Hoffman said. “No one likes the smoke, but there are beneficial environmental impacts to a fire like this.”

The fire is doing a lot of the work for us, clearing out brush and slash that’s going to burn no matter what, and killing some pine beetles along the way, Hoffman said.

“Like any fire, the world will look different for a potentially long time,” Hoffman said.

Fire restrictions still in effect

Local, state and federal officials ordered fire restrictions for the White River National Forest and Bureau of Land Management public lands, as well as unincorporated and private lands in Summit, Eagle, Rio Blanco, Mesa, Garfield and Pitkin counties.

“We want people to enjoy our natural resources, but we ask people to please help prevent human-caused wildfires by respecting the necessary fire restrictions and closures,” said Marcia Gilles, Gutzler Fire public information officer.

The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control said the Gutzler fire is one of nine significant wildfires burning across the state of Colorado.

In Breckenridge, the Peak 2 fire is 85 percent contained and is being held to around 84 acres, said Todd Pechota, incident commander. Firefighters, equipment and air support are also being released from that fire to travel home or to other fires in the West, Pechota said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.



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