Wildfires in northern Colorado expected to be active Sunday
September 23, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Incident command on the Silver Creek and Ryan fires expect an active fire day Sunday. A localized red flag warning is in place Sunday in the area of both fires, mostly in Jackson and Grand counties.
Silver Creek Fire
The Silver Creek Fire grew from 14,324 acres to 18,175 acres Saturday, but this increase was largely due to planned burnout operations.
“Be aware of possible smoke that’s crossing (U.S. Highway) 40,” said Kathy Thibodaux, a public information officer on the fire. She said people traveling on U.S. 40 should take safety precautions like keeping their headlights on, following the posted speed limit and being aware of fire traffic.
This growth and the column of heavy smoke that was visible from the Steamboat Springs area on Saturday was the result of a successful burnout operation on the northern and eastern flanks of the fire, according to Inciweb.
Crews used hand and aerial ignitions to burn off fuels in front of the wildfire, connecting fire lines that were constructed previously in the week.
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The fire lines used were constructed along easier-to-defend terrain containing lighter fuels, such as grass and sage, instead of heavy timber.
The fire is estimated to be 40 percent contained.
On Sunday, firefighters again plan to light off unburned fuels within the fire’s perimeter, removing remaining vegetation and reducing future risk of fire.
Smoke is expected to rise from the western edge of the fire as it backs through the heavy timber in Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area.
Unseasonably warm and dry weather provided the perfect conditions for Saturday’s burnout, according to Inciweb. Lower overnight humidity and a light breeze prepared the grass and sage for burning early in the day.
The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning Sunday due to the continuing low humidity, high wind speeds and temperatures nearing 70 degrees. An air quality health advisory has been issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for western Grand County.
Evacuation notices issued by the Grand County Sheriff’s Department are still in effect for Latigo Ranch and Yost Ranch. The communities of Old Park, Gore Lakes, Lake Agnes and Rabbit Ears Village remain under pre-evacuation notice.
U.S. Forest Service Road 100, also known as Buffalo Park Road, and Forest Road 101 are closed to public traffic along with Forest Road 250 from Forest Road 100 to the intersection of Forest Road 102. U.S. 40 and Colorado Highway 134 remain open.
Travelers are advised to visit CoTrip.org for more information about road closures and delays.
The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Grand County Sheriff have issued area closures that continue to be in effect for the immediate fire area. All closure areas and maps can be found on the Silver Creek Fire’s InciWeb page at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5985/
The Ryan Fire on the Colorado and Wyoming border grew from 2,986 acres to 8,685 acres Saturday. Containment has not been established on the fire. On Sunday, firefighters are focused on protecting structures threatened by the fire.
“We are expecting the fire to continue to grow today due to the weather conditions,” said Ryan Fire public information officer Robert Nelson. “The wind speeds are supposed to be up some, and we are in that red flag warning for this fire area due to dryness of the fuels, the low relative humidity and those wind speeds.”
The fire is burning in the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests.
Carbon County, Wyoming, firefighters worked through the night on the northeast side to protect private property and structures. Sunday, they are working to protect homes in Jerry Park on the Wyoming side of the fire. On the fire’s western side, the Hog Park Guard Station is also threatened.
The growth was due to low overnight humidity Friday evening, according to Inciweb. The fire was very active on the east and northeast side early Saturday.
By mid-morning, the larger fire had started sparking spot fires on its perimeter.
The spread was mostly influenced by the terrain and the beetle-killed lodgepole pine fueling the fire, rather than weather conditions, though a localized red flag warning was in place, according to Inciweb.
Sunday is expected to be another day of active burning due to weather and fuel type. Firefighters expect the fire to create spot fires over long distances and spread at a high rate.
The closure in both Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests have been expanded. An interactive map of closures has been created for hunters.
The Ryan Fire area closure primarily affects hunters with licenses in game management unit 161 in Colorado, and elk area 13 and deer area 81 in Wyoming. Hunters are encouraged to obtain a copy of the area closure map before heading into the field.
For up to date information on fire behavior and closures, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6210/.