All pre-evacuation orders lifted for Eagle County
Eagle County residents who had been under pre-evacuation orders for weeks from the Grizzly Creek Fire got some good news Wednesday.
Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek lifted all orders at noon, according to Jessie Porter with the Sheriff’s Office. That includes pre-evacuation orders for the areas of Coulture Creek and Buck Point Drive in the western end of the county. Coffee Pot Road remains closed to public, non-residential access.
For the third day in a row, the Grizzly Creek Fire showed no growth or increase in acreage. It remains at 32,464 acres and 75% containment. Firefighters have secured roughly 58 miles of the 78.5 miles of fire perimeter.
Restrictions on recreation still in effect
With the operational campaign switching over to mop up and suppression repair, fire managers remind hunters and recreationalists that a road and trail closure remains in place across much of the White River National Forest and on select BLM lands. There have been several instances recently where firefighters have encountered mountain bikers in closure areas.
This creates a dangerous situation for firefighters, heavy equipment operators and mountain bikers on the narrow, twisty trails and roads in the Coffee Pot Road, Cottonwood Pass and Red Canyon areas.
“There are hundreds of miles of trails that remain open to mountain biking outside the closure area,” noted Alaska IMT Incident Commander Norm McDonald. “Out of respect for firefighter and public safety, we ask mountain bikers to adhere to the closures. The last thing we want is a surprise encounter between a mountain biker and a piece of heavy equipment.”
For maps and closure info, go to White River NF closure area or BLM closure order and closure map.
Meanwhile, firefighters continue to focus their energy in the usual areas — a roughly 9-mile piece of uncontained line in the No Name and Grizzly creek drainages on the northwest corner of the fire north of Glenwood Springs and about 10 miles of open line in the Cinnamon and Devil’s Hole drainages on the south end of the fire. Infrared flights by drones and aircraft have confirmed those are the two areas of concern, according to fire managers.
Fire managers with the Alaska Incident Management Team also posted a public service announcement to the Grizzly Creek Fire’s Facebook page urging bikers and other public lands users to not ride into closed areas where fire personnel is working.
There have been several instances in the past few days where firefighting personnel has encountered mountain bikers and hunters in the closure areas. On Tuesday, a firefighter in a pickup met three mountain bikers riding three abreast on Coffee Pot Road in what he described as a “close call.” Mountain biker intrusions have also occurred in Sweetwater Pass and Spring Valley. Likewise, firefighting personnel has encountered several hunters who were out scouting prior to today’s opening of the bow hunting season.
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“There are parts of (Grizzly Creek Fire) that got 8 inches of snow in the recent weeks, but we still have activity on warm days,” a Forest Service spokesman said. “We’ll probably need some kind of season-ending weather event, like a big rain or snow to put it completely out.”