Vail Valley under smoke warning, Gutzler fire grows to 850 acres
• The Gutzler Fire is burning southeast of the Trough Road, nine miles east of State Bridge and 14 miles west of Kremmling.
• Radium campground and boat put-in remain temporarily closed due to fire operations.
• Smoke is visible from Vail and parts of Eagle County near State Bridge, as well as from Pumphouse recreation site, the Trough Road, Green Mountain Reservoir area, Silverthorne and Kremmling.
• On Twitter: Follow the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Center Fire Information twitter account at @UCRFireCenter and the Eagle County Sherriff’s Office twitter account at @EagleCountySO.
• On the web: View the Gutzler Fire updated incident report on Inciweb at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5305, and find information on air-quality issues due to smoke across the state at http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/colo_smoke.aspx.
• On the phone: Residents can dial 211 to receive updated information on this incident and on resources in their counties.
EAGLE — Where there’s fire, there’s smoke and regional wildfires are generating enough smoke that state health officials issued an air-quality advisory.
The Gutzler fire grew overnight Monday to more than 850 acres in remote northern Eagle County. When the wind shifted Tuesday afternoon, the smoke began blowing into the Interstate 70 corridor and the Vail Valley.
That prompted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to issue an air-quality health advisory due to wildfire smoke in Eagle, Summit, Lake and southern portions of Grand counties.
A small fire north of Rifle is 100 percent contained, but another fire broke out in Summit County on Wednesday near Breckenridge.
Smoke level ‘moderate’
Rebecca Larson, an epidemiologist with Eagle County, is recommending that if smoke becomes thick in your neighborhood, you might want to stay indoors.
“This is especially true for those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses including asthma, the very young and the elderly,” Larson said.
Larson said right now the smoke is moderate. When your visibility is less than five miles, it’s getting severe.
“That’s an unhealthy level for everyone. Right now, we’re still at the moderate phase,” Larson said.
Wednesday’s warning is for small children, the elderly and people with respiratory and lung problems. If you fall into those categories, then you’ll do well to avoid heavy activity outdoors, Larson said.
Wearing one of those dust masks you buy in the hardware store won’t help. They trap things like sawdust, not particulates in smoke.
“A dust mask won’t do you much good, at least not right now,” Larson said. “If you can, close your windows. If you see the smoke is clearing, open your windows and let in some fresh air.”
Gutzler fire up to 850 acres
The Gutzler fire made a 550-acre run Tuesday afternoon and evening, growing to 850 acres total overnight, said Aaron Mayville, with the U.S. Forest Service’s Holy Cross Ranger District, in a statement.
However, firefighters are getting it surrounded. On Tuesday, crews built a suppression line along the southwestern side of the fire and are connecting that line to natural barriers when possible, Mayville said.
The fire is burning dead and downed beetle-kill timber along a mesa. The line firefighters are building is joined by an irrigated field. Beyond that field is a ranch and some of the only structures in the area.
Firefighters will use both indirect and direct suppression tactics as they contain the fire, Mayville said.
The Forest Service is partnering with Eagle County for communication.
“Once again, our strong partnership with Eagle County is on display,” Mayville said in the statement. “Together, we can more effectively share updates, talk about the good work happening at the fire and help the public stay educated and informed.”
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.