Grizzly Creek Fire update: Weather provides an assist; containment at 91% | VailDaily.com
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Grizzly Creek Fire update: Weather provides an assist; containment at 91%

Weather changed quickly as the sign shows in the snow Tuesday in Minturn. The state had warnings from fire to freeze and in between the last day.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

The additional 8% of containment added to the sprawling Grizzly Creek Fire on Tuesday came before a cold, wet weather system dropped about a half-inch of rain on the blaze.

The precipitation, of course, was a sigh of relief for the personnel from around the country who continue to work the sprawling blaze as it reached its 30th day.

Tim Mowry with the Type 1 Alaska Incident Management Team said the added containment came on the south side of the fire in the Cinnamon Creek and Devil’s Hole Creek drainages.

“They’ve been hammering away at that for several days,” Mowry said “They finally got to the point where they feel comfortable putting some black on the line.”

Hopefully, Tuesday’s weather will add some more black line when crews can assess the uncontained areas on Wednesday. Firefighters hung tight in camps on Tuesday to avoid the dangerous backcountry conditions while letting the weather go to work.

Wednesday also marks the end of the Alaska team’s stint on the fire. That group, which comprises some 70 members, will turn the fire over to a Type 3 team from Colorado.

Tom Kurth, the deputy incident commander with the Alaska team, thanked local residents during Tuesday night’s Facebook community update.

“The No. 1 objective has always been firefighters’ and public safety,” he said. “We had very few injuries. Our COVID mitigation worked really well for us. No exposures, no cases to report here. That’s always the best news. Private property and infrastructure, utility lines, have pretty much returned to normal. The communities of Glenwood Springs and Eagle, over here on the east side, have all been protected.”

He also thanked the firefighters working the blaze who’ve come from all over the country.

“We have a lot of very talented firefighters out there that come from throughout the country, including Alaska, and their job is to put the pieces of the puzzle together, learn new terrain in a very quick fashion, and put it all together and meet our objective, which is contaminant safely,” he said. “There is a lot of satisfaction in our fire camp tonight.”

The last little bit

As to when full suppression of the fire can be claimed, it could still be weeks.

The remaining fire line that is uncontained in mostly in inaccessible terrain on the northwest corner of the fire in Garfield County.

“That section on the northwest side there, that’s not really fit for humans to get up there,” Mowry said.

Fire personnel continue to shuffle out as the blaze winds down. There are currently six fire crews, 21 engines, one helicopter, three water tenders, five bulldozers, six excavators, and 383 personnel left on the fire and that number will dwindle to around 150 by the end of this week.


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