Grizzly Creek Fire resources, interagency response combine to knock down likely lightning-caused Red Canyon Fire

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Fire personnel on scene at the Red Canyon Fire in Missouri Heights on Wednesday night. The fire was estimated to be roughly 20-40 acres in size. Both ground crews and air support began fighting the blaze shortly after it was started by lightning around 5 p.m.
Peter Baumann / Glenwood Springs Post Independent

What was believed to be a lightning-caused fire in the upper Spring Valley area late Wednesday afternoon briefly forced new evacuations but was ultimately brought under control — but not with some big help from the big machines working the nearby Grizzly Creek Fire.

Fire crews assess how to continue engaging the Red Canyon Fire which broke out in Spring Valley late Wednesday afternoon.

The Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District responded to the Red Canyon Fire at about 4 p.m. Wednesday, and immediately called for backup from other area fire agencies and the interagency team working the Grizzly fire.

Scorched oak brush is left smoldering along County Road 115 after the Red Canyon Fire broke out Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters arrived to find an approximately 20-acre fire rapidly moving to the south and southeast, driven by high winds from a thunderstorm and headed toward a group of cabins in the area. There was not further information Wednesday night on whether any structures burned.

Several residents in the High Aspen, Coulter Ranch and Homestead Estates, in areas not previously evacuated from the Grizzly fire, were forced to do so with the new fire threat, CRFPD said in its initial press release. Much of that area farther to the north had already been evacuated for the Grizzly Creek Fire.

The evacuation order for Red Canyon lifted shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday.

The Red Canyon Fire sparked about six miles south of the 29,000-acre Grizzly Creek Fire, which began on Aug. 10 in Glenwood Canyon.

The red dot to the south of the large Grizzly Creek Fire shows the ignition point for the Red Canyon Fire on Wednesday afternoon.

By about 6 p.m., though, fire managers reported they were making “excellent progress” on the fire from both the air and ground.

“Dozer line is being constructed, and a night shift will be on scene,” a Facebook post on the Grizzly Creek Fire page reported.

Fire managers were also keeping an eye on nearby hillsides for other potential lightning strikes as a thunderstorm with lots of wind and lightning, but very little rain, was moving through the area.

Fire crews work to extinguish the Red Canyon Fire burning near three cabins after it broke out near County Road 115 in Spring Valley Wednesday afternoon.

The fire had grown to about 40 acres before it was brought under control.

Type 1 and Type 2 helicopters, as well as several single-engine air tankers, seven engines and a water tender from the Grizzly Creek Fire responded and were working to suppress the new fire.

Grizzly Creek Fire PIO Brian Scott said the new fire is unrelated, but due to the proximity extra support was sent in.

“We agreed as part of our work to be available for initial attack, and are sending some of our resources down there,” Scott said. Support included engines for structure protection, tenders that can haul water and some aircraft, he said.


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