Flash flooding on Lake Christine Fire burn scar near Basalt; Frying Pan Road reopens after 3-hour closure
The Aspen Times
Crews spent much of Sunday afternoon and into the evening responding to flooding coming from the Lake Christine Fire burn scar near Basalt after a heavy storm rolled through the midvalley.
Mudslides have closed the Frying Pan Road and there are cars trapped between two mudslides, officials said at 6:35 p.m. Travel in the area was restricted, but the road reopened at 8:55 p.m. and crews were there in case they need to close the road again.
“Crews are working to clear debris and reach trapped persons,” officials said in an alert. “Expected length of this event is unknown.”
An Eagle County Sheriff’s deputy on scene blocking the road said there were reports of up to four slides on the road. There have not been any reports of injury.
A frontend loader was sent up the road with law enforcement to try to clear the road. Crews also were heading further up the road to see if there were people at Ruedi Reservoir who might be stuck.
The Frying Pan River was running very high and was a dark red and grey color with debris in the water.
The first emergency alert warning of flash flooding was sent out about 5:30 p.m. by local officials, and the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning at 5:45 p.m. for areas including Basalt and El Jebel. The flash flood warning for the area has been extended to 11:45 p.m., according to an 8:30 p.m. alert from the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office.
According to a Pitkin County alert, there is “active flooding in the Lake Christine Burn Area. Please take all necessary precautions which may include shelter-in-place or seeking higher ground. Do not enter flowing water or debris.”
An evacuation center has been set up at the Eagle County building at Crown Mountain Park. Crews are evacuating homes on Pinon Drive and Cedar Drive above the Pinon intersection.
“All persons on Pinion Road and & Cedar Drive above Pinion Road in Basalt — climb or drive to higher ground NOW. Active flooding and debris flows in area,” an alert at 6:05 p.m. warns.
Crews were first called to the area of Cedar Drive, which is up Frying Pan River, around 5:30 p.m. Crews described “significant water flows” on Cedar Drive near Pinon Drive.
A video sent to The Aspen Times by a Basalt resident showed the road to the shooting range being washed out with large sections of the asphalt missing and water and rock covering the road.
Another Basalt resident told The Times that there was large pieces of tree trunks and debris on Pinon and Cedar roads.
The Lake Christine Fire started on July 3, 2018, and burned more than 12,500 acres on Basalt Mountain. The fire was started by two people using tracer rounds at the firing range near town.
This is a developing story that will be updated.
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.