Wildland fire breaks out on hillside near Old Snowmass; helicopter on scene dropping water | VailDaily.com

Wildland fire breaks out on hillside near Old Snowmass; helicopter on scene dropping water

Fire crews are responding to a wildland fire that started Friday just after 5 p.m. likely from a lightning strike off Highway 82 near Old Snowmass.

Piktin County officials sent an alert about the fire at 5:40 p.m. A helicopter arrived about 6:05 p.m., according to a people in the area, and the first water drop on the fire came at 6:57 p.m.

Julie Royer Manning lives right below the hillside where the fire started and said she heard a loud clap of thunder at 5:05 p.m. and then saw smoke. She said it was not raining at the time.

“I heard this loud boom and it made my dogs jump,” she said when reached at 6 p.m. “It was like a bomb went off.”

Video taken at 6 p.m. of the wildland fire that started Friday afternoon off Highway 82 near Old Snowmass. The road is closed at Gerbaz and Snowmass Canyon due to the fire. https://www.aspentimes.com/news/fire-crews-responding-to-wildland-fire-on-hillside-off-highway-82-near-old-snowmass/

Posted by The Aspen Times on Friday, June 18, 2021

She said she was watching as “big, orange flames” were starting to grow on the hillside.

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Royer Manning said the helicopter was pulling water from a large man-made pond her neighbors put in just recently.

Lower River Road reopened about 7:15 p.m. after it was closed at Gerbaz and Snowmass Canyon as crews respond to the area. People are asked to stay away from the road if they can and only call 911 if they have an unrelated emergency and not about the fire.

A helicopter flies over a burning wildfire that broke out on Friday evening from a lightning strike above Lower River Road in Old Snowmass on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

With the heightened concern about human-caused fires, officials in the Roaring Fork Valley and other parts of western Colorado this week have enacted Stage 1 fire restrictions.

A red flag warning is in effect from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday for all of western Colorado and eastern Utah as forecasters at the National Weather Service are calling for scattered thunderstorms with lightning and wind gusts up to 35 mph through Sunday. Temperatures are expect to drop a few degrees this weekend but not for long.

“Conditions may be favorable for easy ignition and rapid spread of fires due to lightning from thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon and low (humidity) and strong gusts on Sunday,” according to the weather service. “Otherwise, dry conditions are expected for much of the new week.”

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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