UPDATE: Sylvan Fire up to 65% containment as Type I team hands off management
More scattered rain hits the fire Saturday
5 p.m. update: EAGLE — As containment on the Sylvan Fire goes up, personnel assigned to the blaze is going down.
On Saturday, the Rocky Mountain Type I Incident Management Team finished its last shift on the fire before turning it over to a local Type III team at 7 p.m.
The fire remains at 3,792 acres — nearly 6 square miles — with 394 assigned to the blaze, according to a Saturday morning update, down from a peak of 425 earlier in the week.
On the northeastern edge of the fire, the fire line has been completed and is in patrol and monitor status. The power line through the fire was energized at 3 p.m.Saturday. Fire hose and other unneeded equipment have been removed from the fire lines.
In the fire’s second branch, on its southwestern perimeter, existing fire lines are being improved, patrolled and monitored. Logging equipment is being used to clear a path through dense snags to allow construction of additional fire line. The operation should take another two to three days to complete, according to a Saturday morning update.
The steep, inaccessible portion of the fire north of Mount Thomas Trail is boxed in by the trail on the south and scree slopes on the west. Ground assessments by operations personnel and computer modeling shows little chance of fire spread in this area over the next week or two.
In Division A, on the fire’s western edge, the fire line has been completed all the way into Antoine Creek and is being patrolled and monitored. Gridding for spots outside the fire line picked up one spot and will continue today.
Spotty showers continued over the fire Friday, with one isolated downpour producing about a half inch of rain. More scattered rain fell in the area Saturday, but a warming trend and the possibility of additional showers will extend into next week. Fire behavior is expected to be limited.
Changing of hands
For a large wildfire that quickly became the top priority incident in the Rocky Mountain region due to threats to watersheds and power lines, things have mostly broken the right way.
“Between the weather and being able to get resources when we needed them, things went very well,” said Michelle Kelly, a public information officer with the Rocky Mountain Fire District, on Friday.
Kelly described the transition from the Type I team to the local Type III team in detail Friday.
“We go through and evaluate what processes we would recommend, operations ideas, logistics for the firefighters that are continuing to work here, as well as recommendations for getting information to the public about the fire,” she said. “We just had our transition meeting, where we get into a brief history of the fire and what the team is leaving in place.”
She also said the local Type III team taking over the fire shadows the Type-I team leading up to the transition.
Costs add up quickly
The cost of the fire, as of Friday, was estimated at $4.9 million and counting. Kelly said the bill will be footed by U.S. Forest Service funds, since the fire is burning in the White River National Forest.
That covers everything from the money paid to personnel on the ground to those in the air, as well as equipment costs, food costs, lodging costs, gas, and anything else you can think of when it comes to such a large-scale effort.
“Everything is accounted for,” Kelly said. “The finance section tracks every order number and everything that’s ordered is paid for, every person that’s working, the food we eat, the lodging.”
As firefighters continue to manage the ongoing fire activity, the team managing the fire asks that out of the interest of public and firefighter safety, people continue to stay out of the area.
Location: Eagle County, White River National Forest in Sylvan Lake State Park, 16 miles south of Eagle
Size: 3,792 acres
Cause: Suspected lightning, still under investigation
Date of Ignition: About 3:15 p.m. June 20
Firefighting Personnel: 394
Though lightning is suspected as cause of the fire, the incident is still under investigation.
For the latest information about pre-evacuation or evacuation notices or fire restrictions on non-Federal lands, visit ECemergency.org. Officials are also reminding the public that wildfires are a No Drone Zone, and if you fly, they can’t.