Wildfire burning in far eastern Pitkin County up Frying Pan Valley
A wildfire that likely started a couple of weeks ago and has been smoldering captured attention Saturday when it kicked up in windy conditions and produced a lot of smoke visible from Basalt, Aspen and Leadville, according to White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams.
The fire is burning near Granite Lakes in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness area. The trailhead for lakes is about 32 miles east of Basalt in Fryingpan Valley. The lakes are about 6 miles from the trailhead on a steep route.
The fire has grown to 113 acres but the Forest Service isn’t concerned about it growing significantly due to the rugged terrain, Fitzwilliams said Saturday night.
Pictures provided by the U.S. Forest Service showed the fire burning in isolated timber stands in rocky, high elevation terrain. The nearby lakes are at an elevation exceeding 11,600 feet. It emphasizes how dry conditions are.
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The Roaring Fork Valley has received only spotty rain in August and September.
“All indications are it was lightning,” Fitzwilliams said of the cause.
Although officials have been aware of the fire for several days, public concern soared Saturday in the warm, gusty conditions when smoke billowed from the site.
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office sent an alert at 5 p.m. advising people that there is a two-acre fire by Granite Lakes.
“Grand Junction Interagency Fire is aware and monitoring,” the alert said. “Fire can be seen from Aspen to Basalt.”
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Numerous small and mid-sized ski areas applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal government this spring. Initial legislation made it tough for ski areas to achieve loan forgiveness. The industry rallied to tweak the rules and brighten prospects.