Weekend rain could bring flooding in the burn area | AspenTimes.com

Weekend rain could bring flooding in the burn area

The Colorado River divides Glenwood Canyon slurry and a burn scar on the ridge from the Grizzly Creek Fire on Monday, August 24, 2020. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

As the Grizzly Creek Fire winds down, more closed areas are opening back up.

On Friday afternoon, the Bureau of Land Management’s Colorado River Valley Field Office announced it had reopened the Cottonwood and Lyons Gulch recreation sites along the Colorado River.

The areas had been closed as fire personnel battled the blaze. The Dotsero Landing Boat Ramp remains closed.

According to the most recent InciWeb update on Friday night, the blaze was 71% contained with total acreage at 32,448 acres — nearly 51 square miles.

Loose debris remains a concern — crews worked Friday to clear a rockslide from Colorado River Road north of Dotsero.

In a Friday morning update, Karen Scholl, the operations section chief for the Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team, said crews gained “a little containment (on the southeastern perimeter).

“South of Bair Ranch, we are continuing to mop up and hold the burnout from a couple of days ago. It’s still looking really good but there’s still work to be done. We’re not ready to call that black yet,” Scholl said.

The Alaska Team took over for the Great Basin Type 1 Incident Management Team earlier this week. Made up of about 80 personnel, the Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team includes experts in operations, plans, logistics, finance, aviation, safety and communications. In total, 663 personnel were working on containing the fire as of Friday morning.

Among the resources assigned to the fire are 11 crews, five helicopters, 37 fire engines, 10 bulldozers, 13 water tenders, and three skidgens.

The management team was also girding for winds and isolated showers heading into the weekend.

“The winds have already picked up and the forecast is calling for a weather disturbance to move over Utah and northwest Colorado, bringing a chance of isolated showers tonight and an increasing chance of showers and storms starting at sunrise on Saturday,” an update on the Grizzly Creek Fire’s Facebook page stated after 2 p.m. Friday.

“There is a 50% chance of wetting rain over the fire area tomorrow. A wetting rain is defined as one-tenth of an inch or more. Some areas may receive over one-quarter of an inch of rain, which could raise the potential for flooding and debris flow in the fire area.”

Thursday’s drier weather prompted increased fire activity in Grizzly Creek drainage. Scholl said it’s a good reminder that the fire remains a hazard even as containment increases.

“It is showing that there’s still fire out here, we’re not done with this yet,” she said.

Loose debris remains a concern — crews worked Friday to clear a rockslide from Colorado River Road north of Dotsero.

“With the fire burning all the vegetation, those steep slopes are now unable to hold what rocks and debris are up there,” she said. “So, that’s what we’re anticipating with rain is debris flow in all sorts of areas so we’re keeping an eye on that to keep our crews safe.”

Smoke concerns should also be considerably lower heading into the weekend.

“There is a possibility of smoke accumulating in the late and early morning hours if we do get extreme fire behavior from Grizzly Creek fires and the Cameron Peak fire,” according to the update.

The Grizzly Creek public information line is 970-930-1850.

Peter Baumann with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent contributed reporting.

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