Sugarloaf Fire surpasses 1,200-acres, Weston Pass Fire hits 6,500 | VailDaily.com

Sugarloaf Fire surpasses 1,200-acres, Weston Pass Fire hits 6,500

Sawyer D’Argonne
Summit Daily News

The Sugarloaf fire that ignited in Grand County late last week has now grown to more than 1,200-acres, according to Inciweb, an interagency incident information management system. The blaze is currently at zero percent containment, as fire officials continue to let the wind push it northeast and away from Summit County.

"They feel they have a good handle on it," said Jeff Berino, fire chief for Summit Fire & EMS, of the efforts of fire crews in Grand County. "They're more or less steering it to where they can get some benefit from it, to the beetle kill."

Fifty-two individuals are actively fighting the blaze located about 13 miles southwest of Fraser, including a Type 3 Incident Management Team headed by Incident Commander Mark Giacoletto. The fire currently doesn't threaten any structures or residents.

Weston Pass fire

The Weston Pass fire just 9 miles south of Fairplay continues to grow, as well, and has now reached 6,500 acres with zero percent containment. More than 300 firefighters are actively fighting the fire, and evacuation orders remain in place for Black Mountain south of County Road 22 and Campground of the Rockies. Black Mountain north of County Road 22 and Thousand Peaks remain on voluntary evacuations orders.

"We're not directly affected by it, but we're concerned for a number of reasons," said Steve Lipsher, public information officer for Summit Fire & EMS. "Any time there's a fire there's concern about our neighbors. But in the back of your mind you know that with so many fires burning, resources are thin. That means if we get a fire we might have to compete with another fire for aircraft for instance."

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And as temperatures continue to rise, so does the danger of another wildfire. Berino said Summit Fire has received numerous reports of people using fireworks in their yards and urged everyone to consider the potential consequences of a rogue spark.

"We just want to keep pushing the message that we need a safe Fourth of July, and everybody needs to do their part," Berino said. "There's no relief in sight, and we're likely to move our wildfire danger meter from very high to extreme by the end of the week. So everybody needs to stay vigilant."

Berino added that Summit County's Stage 2 fire restrictions would stay in place for at least another week. Eagle County is also under Stage 2 restrictions.

Violators of the federal restrictions handed down by the White River National Forest can be punished by a fine of no more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, imprisoned for no more than six months or both.

"We've been getting a lot of phone calls about that," Berino said. "Bottom line is if it has an on and off switch it's probably okay to use. If it doesn't, it's probably not. We have zero tolerance for violators."