Wildfire below Ruedi Reservoir dam contained to less than 1 acre
Feds mounted aggressive effort to keep fire small
A small wildland fire below Ruedi Reservoir dam was close to full containment by Wednesday afternoon and federal fire managers anticipated pulling resources off it by nightfall after wrapping up, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The Fryingpan 11 fire, named because it was on a steep hillside south of mile marker 11 on Fryingpan Road, started on Saturday. The cause is suspected to be a lightning strike.
The fire was kept at less than one acre, according to Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Kevin Warner. He said Wednesday the fire was attacked aggressively to prevent it from growing and requiring a larger amount of vital resources, which are stretched thin because of all the fires in Colorado and throughout the region.
“With this particular fire, we invested considerable resources with a type 3 helicopter,” Warner said. The helicopter was used to dump a significant amount of water on the blaze until firefighters could hike into the relatively remote site, he said. The exact size of the firefighter team wasn’t available, but Warner estimated it at between six and eight.
The Fryingpan 11 Fire and the Sylvan Lake Fire are the only two fires currently active on the White River National Forest. The Sylvan Lake Fire started 12 miles south of Eagle and has spread into the far reaches of the Roaring Fork Fire Rescue district. That fire had grown to 2,630 acres as of Wednesday morning.
A pre-evacuation order remains in place for residents of the Fryingpan Valley above Ruedi Reservoir. Woods Lake, a former historic resort that now is the site of private residences, was evacuated, according to Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Chief Scott Thompson. The fire department is staffing its fire station in the Meredith-Thomasville area as a precaution and to answer questions from residents, he said.
Thompson said Wednesday he remains “terrified” of the fire threat because of the dry conditions.
The Roaring Fork Valley and most of western Colorado is in the grips of a drought. Most all the county, state and federal lands in the Roaring Fork Valley and much of western Colorado will be in Stage 2 fire restrictions by Friday. Meanwhile, large fires in other western states are requiring many of the federal firefighting resources.
“We’re still dealing with not many resources available,” Thompson said.
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Colorado State Patrol will send extra troopers to Independence Pass but tools such as one-way, directional travel through the Narrows are not being considered.