Fire pre-evacuation notice will be lifted Wednesday for Basalt and El Jebel | AspenTimes.com

Fire pre-evacuation notice will be lifted Wednesday for Basalt and El Jebel

Cars line up on Original Street in Basalt on Sunday afternoon before the evacuation was lifted at 2 p.m.

Residents of Basalt and El Jebel who have frayed nerves from the Lake Christine Fire should be able to sleep a little easier.

A pre-evacuation notice for the two towns will be lifted Wednesday at 8 a.m., according to Mike McMillan, public information officer for the Upper Colorado Type 3 Incident Management Team.

The pre-evacuation order will remain in effect for Missouri Heights, McMillan said Tuesday. A pre-evacuation order essentially tells residents to keep valuables packed and be ready to go if there is a change in fire conditions.

The risk from the fire has diminished significantly in recent days so the management team wanted to put residents of El Jebel and Basalt at ease.

"They've been on edge just because of the existence of the pre-evacuation notice," McMillan said. "Many people still have their cars packed up."

It is unknown how long the pre-evacuation notice will remain in effect for residents of Missouri Heights, where multiple rural subdivisions are located adjacent to the burn area.

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The fire has burned 6,822 acres since it started the evening of July 3. It is 59 percent contained. While some firefighters and equipment were transferred to other fires over the weekend, there are still significant resources dedicated to the Lake Christine Fire. That includes 214 personnel with five hand crews, nine engines, three water tenders, one bulldozer and three helicopters.

Full suppression of the fire remains the objective, according to an update issued by the incident management team Tuesday morning.

"Extremely rugged, rocky terrain is preventing firefighters from building fire line directly on the fire's north and east flanks," the statement said. "Crews are mopping-up, improving and patrolling control lines (Tuesday), supported by helicopters dropping water on hotspots as needed.

"Flames are backing and creeping in these areas and fire spread is limited. Smoke will be visible as the fuels in these areas burn themselves out. Depending upon wind direction and intensity, smoke may settle in area communities at times," the statement continued.

The cost of the firefighting effort as of Monday night was $7.06 million, according to federal officials.