Red Canyon fire spawns evacuation orders for nearby residents |

Red Canyon fire spawns evacuation orders for nearby residents

John Colson
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Firefighter Michael Cruz of Grand Valley Fire Department swings his pulaski as he helps construct a fire line on the south side of the Red Canyon Fire on Tuesday.
Christopher Mullen / Special to the Post Independent |

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A wildfire southeast of Glenwood Springs that began on Monday afternoon has now grown to more than 250 acres in size, and has prompted evacuation orders to the east and north of the fire for the first time since the incident began, according to fire and law enforcement officials.

According to Garfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Walt Stowe, public information officer for the fire, the blaze made an unexpected run to the north and east during the afternoon, consuming up to 40 acres of terrain as it did so.

Stowe, in a press release issued at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, reported that evacuees will be asked to go to the Roaring Fork High School building in Carbondale, while evacuated livestock is being sent to the Garfield County Fairgrounds in Rifle.

No further press releases had been issued by Stowe or other authorities as of 7:30 p.m.

Incident Commander Ross Wilmore, a federal fire management employee with the U.S. Forest Service, said Tuesday evening that the fire “is about 10 percent contained down at the southern end.”

But the northern end, along the eastern side of the base of Lookout Mountain, was not contained at all at that point, Wilmore told the Post Independent.

He said that at approximately 4 p.m. the fire “took a little push to the north and to the east” from gusting winds, and ended up moving into a stream drainage and then onto a relatively flat area below Lookout Mountain Road, where fire crews had better access and were able to attack the blaze and knock it down a bit.

Speaking to a reporter by cell phone at about 7:30 p.m., Wilmore was headed back up to the fire zone following a quick meal at the Carbondale fire station. He said he expects to be on duty until he turns the fire over to a Type II management team from the BLM at 6 a.m.

Known as the Red Canyon Fire, the blaze began in a juniper-pinyon forest at the top of Red Canyon Road on Monday afternoon, and is believed to have been caused by lightning, although that has not yet been confirmed.

According to Stowe, there were approximately 60 men and women fighting the fire on Tuesday, and more were due later in the afternoon or evening when the Juniper Valley firefighting crews, made up of minimum-security prisons at Rifle and Buena Vista, were expected to pitch in, as well as a Type II Fire Supression Team from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

A spokeswoman for the Carbondale fire department, who has been maintaining a running account of fire fighting efforts on the department’s Twitter page (twitter@carbondalefire), said Tuesday morning that there were approximately 10 fire vehicles and apparatus at the scene.

Stowe, in a fire update released at 12:15 p.m., reported that the fire has been attacked from the air as well as the ground, and that it was burning in an area that is “steep with heavy fuels of juniper and pine.

Authorities at about noon on Tuesday cautioned motorists on Highway 82 that there would be “additional cross traffic” at the intersection of Red Canyon Road and Highway 82, because tanker trucks have been refilling with water from hydrants at Holy Cross Electric, which is across the highway from the lower end of Red Canyon Road.

Officials report that no structures have been lost as a result of the fire, and there have been no injuries reported due to the fire.

Those interested in shelter for their livestock should call 625-2514, the main fairgrounds number, and inquire for more details.