** UPDATE ** July 5 @ 5 p.m.
Wildfire Near Breckenridge Forces Pre-Evacuations
A wildfire on Peak Two above the Town of Breckenridge was reported by a hiker late this morning and has grown to 80 acres, at last report. The fire’s close proximity to the town and resort has prompted officials to issue an evacuation for certain parts of the community.
All of Peak 7 (approximately 463 residences) is under pre-evacuation. All of Breckenridge, Gold Hill and Silver Shekel have been asked to prepare for evacuation. No structures have been destroyed. Highway 9 is open.
Summit County Board of County Commissioners has issued a ban on open fires.
Firefighters from Leadville, Vail and Park County are assisting. Grand County firefighters are on the way. Four more hotshot crews and a 21-person ground crew have been ordered. A federal incident management team is coming in to manage the fire. For the latest updates, Leadville Today refers readers to Summit County Emergency Management Page.
Gutzler Fire Brings Smoke to Leadville Skies
By Kathy Bedell, ©Leadville Today
The Gutzler Wildfire which is currently burning in neighboring Eagle County sent a significant draft of smoke into the Leadville skies late afternoon on July 4th that had Lake County residents concerned. And for residents in Mt. Massive Lakes and Beaver Lake Estates south of Leadville, the fast-moving smoke just as quickly settled into the mountain valleys west of the Mosquito Range, putting residents on high alert as the cooling evening temperatures had the haze (naturally) sinking closer to the ground.
As of July 5, there are four wildfires now burning in Colorado, the Gutzler being the closest to Leadville and one that local skies are likely to see haze and smoke from for days as wind patterns shift and bring the stenchy reminder of exactly how vulnerable local forecasts are to fire under the current dry conditions. The Gutzler is located approximately 14 miles southwest of Kremmling, and approximately 9 miles east of the State Bridge Area.
According to Kate Jerman with the US Forrest Service, there is good indication that the cause of the Gutzler fire is from a lightning strike that was smoldering since the last week in June.
Yesterday, July 4th, firefighters continued efforts to suppress the Gutzler as terrain and conditions allowed. The fire was mapped yesterday morning by a Multi Mission Aircraft (MMA) infrared flight which indicated growth yesterday and overnight by 200 acres. The Gutzler fire is now just over 300 acres in total. Some spotting has occurred on private land to the east.
Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit (UCR) managers are in coordination with adjacent private land owners and Eagle County. Currently, hotshot crews are building containment lines by hand and with chainsaws to indirectly suppress the fire. Crews are implementing a suppression strategy utilizing natural barriers as fire breaks when possible and looking for opportunities for containment.
“(On Monday) we got a better idea of what the fire behavior is like in this dense timber stand which is affected by beetle-kill,” said Aaron Mayville, Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District Ranger. “Due to the fuel-loading, conditions, and our focus on firefighter safety, we anticipate this fire will be with us for a little while.”
The fire is primarily burning in mixed conifer and beetle kill timber, with isolated torching and spotting in a heavy fuel load of dead and downed trees. Firefighter safety is top priority. At this time, crews are not cutting direct suppression lines on the flanks of the fire due to safety concerns with falling dead trees.
As for Leadville and Lake County, according to the Lake County Office of Emergency Management (LCOEM), there are currently no fire restrictions or bans in place.
It’s also a good reminder that if you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the local alert system and like the LCOEM Facebook Page for the latest updates and reports . Be safe and stay situational aware of what’s happening around you.