Crews gaining on containment of Grizzly Creek Fire, up to 22% by Friday night as weather gives a hand | AspenTimes.com
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Crews gaining on containment of Grizzly Creek Fire, up to 22% by Friday night as weather gives a hand

John LaConte, John Stroud and Peter Baumann
Vail Daily and Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Containment of the Grizzly Creek Fire doubled Friday from 11% to 22% heading into Friday night. The Grizzly Creek Fire was 29,928 acres Friday night — a slight decrease in size from earlier Friday.

Pine Gulch Fire also increased in containment, albeit at a smaller rate, to 19%. The Pine Gulch Fire was 125,191 acres in size Friday night, showing growth of fewer than 300 acres Friday.

Crews had also controlled two other small blazes in Eagle County by Friday, the largest being the Rube Creek Fire that was sparked Thursday south of Wolcott.

According to the Friday update from the Great Basin Type 1 Incident Command Team, firefighters on Thursday continued to build direct and indirect fire line and strengthened existing containment lines around the Grizzly Creek Fire.

“Thunderstorms brought rain to the east side of the fire in the Bair Ranch area, which slowed fire progression,” according to the morning report post to the incident Facebook page. “However, hot, dry and windy conditions persisted west of I-70 where the fire remained more active.”

On Friday afternoon, the Blue Ridge Hotshots conducted an operation in the Bair Ranch area.

Elsewhere, firefighters in No Name used wood chipper to help clear out tree limbs, branches and brush that were cut down last week as part of the effort to reduce fire danger around homes there, incident command also reported.

“The chipping operation is a part of the incident management team’s effort to repair and rehabilitate areas where fire mitigation and suppression tactics have been implemented,” according to the report.

Residents of No Name were evacuated Aug. 11. That evacuation order remains in effect.

Rube Creek knocked down

Meanwhile, burning near Wolcott, the Rube Creek Fire has not grown since its initial estimate at 9 acres, Doug Cupp with the Greater Eagle Fire District said on Friday.

“Hand crews are up there today, reinforcing the line that we have around it,” Cupp said Friday. “They’re expecting to be able to call containment sometime today.”

The Rube Creek Fire was quickly reported following a lightning strike in the area on Thursday, and crews were able to respond rapidly with both air and on-the-ground support.

“We called for aircraft support immediately — there’s not much access to get up there by vehicles or by foot, because it’s on the side of a massive cliff — so we used air support initially to cool the fire and box it in with retardant,” Cupp said on Thursday.

Murphy Fire contained

Two other Eagle County fires — the Camp Hale Fire and the Murphy Fire — were contained on Thursday. Both were suspected to have occurred as a result of lighting.

“The lightning was what we call dry lightning, which has very little precipitation with it,” said Marcia Gilles, the White River National Forest Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District deputy district ranger. “We’re definitely on high alert right now, watching the situation and watching our lightning-strike maps.”

Gilles reminded visitors to the White River National Forest to be on high alert, as well, as fire danger remains high.

“We’re asking the public to really help us be diligent in watching what they’re doing as far as their impacts — making sure they’re not dragging their chains if they’re towing trailers, smoking, no campfires right now — the more they can help us, the more we can be on top of this Grizzly Fire, and also be able to react and respond to other fires as they pop up.”

Pine Gulch Fire

Elsewhere, the Pine Gulch Fire burning north and west of DeBeque on the Garfield-Mesa county line has grown to 124,934 acres and is now 17% contained, according to the Friday update on the western Colorado fire.

“Firefighters are still witnessing active fire behavior due to historically dry conditions and receptive fuels,” according to the latest report from Pine Gulch incident command. The fire is now the second-largest in Colorado history.

“Excessive heat warnings continue throughout western and central Colorado, with a highs near 96 in Grand Valley. Smokey conditions are expected to continue Friday across portions of central and western Colorado, especially in the Grand Valley,” according to the report.


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