Sylvan Fire crews could get some help from scattered showers in the forecast
A Type 1 team will assume management of the fire beginning Thursday and be based out of Eagle Valley Middle School
4 p.m. update: Firefighters working the Sylvan Fire may get an assist from Mother Nature in the days ahead.
Kris Sanders, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said measurable rain isn’t likely Wednesday but some light precipitation could fall in the area of the fire Wednesday night.
On Thursday, widespread showers and thunderstorms are in the local forecast.
“There’s a good chance that these showers will be pretty scattered in nature,” Sanders said. “Wedding rain, so to speak. That’s on the table for tomorrow.”
The cloud cover and the relative humidity should also help, in theory, Sanders said.
“The one thing that is the wild card is the wind that comes out of these showers,” Sanders said. “That’s something to keep an eye on. When these gusts of wind stir up things with the fire.”
Noon update: David Boyd of the U.S. Forest Service reports that firefighters Wednesday will work to hold the area of the Sylvan Fire that crossed Forest Road 400 (West Brush Creek Road). Crews will be aided by two heavy helicopters and a light helicopter. Crews are scouting East Brush Creek Road for fireline opportunities as a contingency.
Total personnel on the fire is up to 130. Firefighters have burned in some fireline north and east of Crooked Creek Park as they work to keep the fire from moving farther south. Crews will also work to contain the heel of the fire on the north side, and people may see air tankers helping with that effort.
The fire is currently 3,583 acres — more than 5.5 square miles. There is currently no containment estimate. The cause is under investigation but lightning is suspected.
The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team will assume management of the fire beginning Thursday and will be based out of the Eagle Valley Middle School in Eagle. Residents should be aware of increased fire traffic in the downtown Eagle area.
A virtual community meeting will be held on the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The White River National Forest will enter Stage 2 fire restrictions on Friday.
For the latest information about pre-evacuation or evacuation notices, visit ECEmergency.org for Eagle County and PitkinCounty.com for Pitkin County.
The White River National Forest has issued a closure order for the area around the Sylvan Fire.
The latest information, including a map of the closure when it is available, will be posted at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7562.
For more information about wildfire smoke visit EPA.gov/smoke-ready-toolbox-wildfires.
9 a.m.: Crews working the Sylvan Fire 12 miles south of Eagle are preparing for another day of active fire behavior and additional resources are en route. The wildland fire is 3,583 acres — more than 5.5 square miles — as of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The Sylvan Fire reached the shores of Sylvan Lake on Tuesday. According to David Boyd, White River National Forest public information officer, the fire moved quickly in the late afternoon Tuesday, driven by wind. As of about 6 p.m. the fire had grown more than 1,000 acres during the day.
Reinforcements were dispatched Tuesday, with an additional 60 firefighters to bolster the 75 people already on the fire lines. Boyd said that additional personnel includes one Hotshot crew.
Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek said his office has secured hotel vouchers for the out-of-town fire crews.
The reinforcements include one more heavy helicopter to add to one heavy and one light helicopter already working the blaze. Boyd said fixed-wing aircraft, including a very large air tanker, a large air tanker, and single-engine air tankers dispatched from Rifle and Grand Junction were making retardant drops throughout Tuesday.
That additional manpower means the Sylvan Fire has been upgraded to a Type 2 incident, meaning more resources can be brought to bear, and freeing up other resources for other fires on the 2 million-acre forest.
The fire reaching the lake means it has escaped the boundaries of the “box” in which officials had hoped to contain it.
Boyd said the fire jumped a fire line along a power line road, and Forest Road 400 above that.
The fire’s expansion means officials are looking at new strategies and tactics to fight the blaze, Boyd said.
A pre-evacuation order was issued earlier Tuesday for residents, businesses and others in the area of Sylvan Lake State Park. The area includes Frost Creek, Salt Creek, and Bruce Creek.
People in these areas may be asked to evacuate if the fire worsens.
Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for the areas of Hat Creek, Yeoman State Park, and Fulford. If you are in these areas, you need to evacuate immediately.
If you have immediate needs for relocating livestock, call 970-379-7731. Now is the time to prepare to leave and consider precautionary movement of those with special needs, mobile property and large animals.
Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum may be used as an evacuation center.
Hardscrabble Road is completely closed, van Beek told the Eagle Town Council at Tuesday’s meeting. Anyone in areas currently designated as evacuation or pre-evacuation areas can bring horses and other large livestock animals to the Eagle County Fairgrounds, he said.
In other remarks to the council, van Beek said fire had been moving steadily southeast before changing direction around 5 p.m. The fire then “took some unusual turns,” he said.
The terrain in which firefighters are working to control the blaze has some features that help create natural boundaries, including aspen groves and meadows to the west. There’s also a power line road on the northeast and east sides of the fire where firefighters can reinforce fire lines. There are steep, rocky fields elsewhere along the boundaries of the fire.
“We’re being as aggressive as we can,“ Boyd said. But, he added, there’s currently a lot of fire activity in Colorado and neighboring states, so resources are somewhat limited.
“We don’t have everything we’d like to have here,” he said.
As firefighters travel to the area to help battle the Sylvan Fire, van Beek stressed it is vital to keep other traffic off roads including Crooked Creek Pass, Eagle-Thomasville Road and portions of Cottonwood Pass. Full closure information is available at ECEmergency.org.
“We are asking everyone who has no reason to be up there to stay out of the area,” van Beek said at the Monday briefing.
Firefighters have taken steps to protect structures at Sylvan Lake State Park. Other infrastructure at risk includes an Xcel Energy transmission cable.
The town of Eagle has posted information about fire-related trail closures at TownOfEagle.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=519.
Kelli Duncan and Scott Miller contributed reporting.
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