Ptarmigan Fire in Summit County: Evacuation order issued for all of Hamilton Creek

Residents are asked to leave the area immediately

An air tanker makes a slurry drop on the Ptarmigan Fire on U.S. Forest Service land near Silverthorne on Monday, Sept. 27.
Lisa Robinson/Courtesy photo

8:41 p.m. Officials provided community members with an update on the Ptarmigan Fire at the Silverthorne Town Hall this evening, noting that it’s unlikely that residents in the upper Hamilton Creek area who have been evacuated will be able to return to their homes tonight.

Chris Stewart, deputy district ranger with the Dillon Ranger District, said that several aircraft provided initial attack on the fire this afternoon, including two small air tankers, a large air tanker and a helicopter. The aircraft have been grounded for the night, but Stewart said they would be back tomorrow morning to support firefighters.

Stewart noted that firefighters would remain in the area overnight to monitor the blaze and do reconnaissance work to determine how ground crews could best gain access and begin building containment Tuesday morning.

“Basically they’re going to be keeping an eye on everything in case we need to work with our partners if things did shift or once those ground resources get here (so) they’re ready to go,” Stewart said.

Officials are expecting the fire to calm down overnight due to colder temperatures and higher humidity, though it could pick back up Tuesday. Officials are urging residents in the area to frequently check news sites, social media channels and to look out for further emergency alerts.

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Residents in the Angler Mountain neighborhood and the South Forty subdivision are currently under a pre-evacuation notice and should be ready to leave the area at any time.

“For those who are on pre-evacuation, don’t take that lightly,” Summit Fire & EMS spokesperson Steve Lipsher said. “Pack up; be ready to go if things change. We’re not expecting them to change, but be ready to go.”

Summit Fire Chief Travis Davis said he isn’t currently expecting the fire to grow much from its current size of 25-30 acres overnight.

“What’s happening up there now is what we call a dirty burn,” Davis said. “So what the fire is doing is it’s skulking around on the ground. It’s not very big until it finds this jackpot of dead trees and then it just takes off. So I can promise you — I don’t want to minimize it, this is the business we’re in and we see these things — but it looks worse than what it truly is at this point. …

“It doesn’t have that big, flaming wall that you see on a lot of big fires, and so it’s not throwing huge embers out front and starting spot fires. It really is just skunking around until it finds something dry enough that can burn, it shoots up into the air, we see a little black smoke and then it just kind of lays back down. Because we don’t have the right conditions — the high heat, the low humidity, the winds — what it’s doing right now is pretty much what you’re going to see. I don’t really think we’re going to see much growth.”

Both Davis and Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said the evacuation was precautionary.

“If it wasn’t I’d be telling you to get in your car and go,” FitzSimons said.

There is currently an evacuation shelter set up at Summit Middle School, located at 158 School Road in Frisco.

Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence asked community members to reach out to residents in the area who may need a place to stay. She noted there would likely be traffic impacts Tuesday and asked community members to be respectful of firefighting operations.

“Depending on tomorrow, you could see road closures and delays in various areas,” Lawrence said. “That is all set up to fight the fire. … So let’s do what we can to stay out of folks way and make sure that people and helicopters can get across the road and do what they need to do.”

8:04 p.m. The South Forty subdivision is now under pre-evacuation notice, according to a Summit County alert. Angler Mountain neighborhood is also under a pre-evacuation notice. The entire Hamilton Creek neighborhood is still under mandatory evacuation.

8:01 p.m. Pet owners who need to evacuate and plan to stay at the Red Cross shelter can bring their pets to the Summit County Animal Control and Shelter, 58 Nancy’s Place in Frisco, until 9 p.m. Monday. After 9 p.m., pet owners can call the non-emergency dispatch line at 970-668-8600. The animal shelter will reopen at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28.

7:42 p.m. The mandatory evacuation order now includes the entire Hamilton Creek neighborhood, according to Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons. The Angler Mountain neighborhood remains under a pre-evacuation notice.

“The fire is still active, and it’s just a little too close for comfort for Hamilton Creek,” FitzSimons said.

7:38 p.m. The American Red Cross is setting up a shelter for evacuees at Summit Middle School, 158 School Road in Frisco. The shelter should be established by about 8:40 p.m. Officials are asking anyone who has been evacuated to stop by the shelter and share their name and address even if they don’t intend to stay.

Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said it is unlikely that evacuees will be allowed to return to their homes tonight.

7:07 p.m. The Ptarmigan Fire has grown to between 25 and 30 acres, according to Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons, who addressed a crowd at Silverthorne Town Hall at 7 p.m.

FitzSimons said there are about 291 homes in the Hamilton Creek neighborhood and about 57 in the Angler Mountain neighborhood.

6:33 p.m. The Silverthorne Town Hall, located at 601 Center Circle, has been designated as an evacuee reception site, according to an emergency alert from the county. There will be a briefing on the wildfire at the town hall at 7 p.m.

Officials are now calling the wildfire the Ptarmigan Fire.

Julia Scanlan/Courtesy video

6:15 p.m. Summit Fire & EMS spokesperson Steve Lipsher said fire conditions are currently too dangerous for ground crews to try to combat the blaze.

“It’s still fairly small, but we’re seeing some active fire behavior up in there,” Lipsher said. “It’s burning in some pretty heavy timber with a mix of aspen and lodgepole pine. I know firsthand that there’s a lot of downed lodgepole up in that area.”

Lipsher said the fire was first reported at about 4:45 p.m.

An evacuation order remains in place for residents in upper Hamilton Creek on Lakeview Circle. A pre-evacuation notice remains in place for individuals in lower Hamilton Creek and Angler Mountain.

“They should be packing up to leave,” Lipsher said.

5:57 p.m. The Summit County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation order for residents of Lakeview Circle in the Hamilton Creek neighborhood. Residents should leave the area immediately.

A pre-evacuation notice has been issued for residents in the lower Hamilton Creek and Angler Mountain neighborhoods.

“This is just all a precaution because the wind keeps flipping directions,” Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said. “We’re just trying to be safe until the air assets get here.”

FitzSimons said he didn’t have an update on the current size of the fire, but he said it was “definitely growing.” He noted a helicopter should be on scene any minute to begin providing air support.

5:37 p.m. The fire is currently about an acre in size and is burning in the Ptarmigan Peak area on U.S. Forest Service land, just outside of the designated wilderness area boundary, according to Dillon District Ranger Adam Bianchi.

“It’s probably about an acre in size and growing,” Bianchi said. “… We’ve got two single-engine air tankers on the way here. There is no personnel on the ground yet. We’re just trying to get some air tankers in route over there to dump a little water and get some eyes on it.”

Original story:

Firefighters are responding to a wildfire that ignited in the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness area north of Silverthorne on the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 27. Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said no lives or structures are currently being threatened.

“Obviously, initial attack is everything, and Grand Junction is sending aircraft.” FitzSimons said. “It’s really high up, so I don’t think ground crews will be able to get to it, but we’ll see. It’s really early. … We are building up an attack.”

Officials are asking community members not to call 911 to report the smoke.

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