Crews battle Vail Valley’s Red Canyon II fire to a standstill at 26 acres, 30 percent contained
WOLCOTT — Crews battled the Red Canyon II Fire to a standstill Monday, July 9.
Eagle County’s latest wildfire was 26 acres Monday morning and was still 26 acres Monday evening.
The fire was reported to be 30 percent contained as of 5 p.m. Monday, and residents of Red Canyon Estates who had been evacuated were allowed to return to their homes Monday evening.
Crews also kept the fire away from power lines that run through the area between Edwards and Wolcott.
“We are grateful for the swift and steady work of firefighters throughout the day,” said Aaron Mayville, district ranger for the Holy Cross Ranger District. “There is still work to do. We’ll have engines and crews in the area for the next few days, and patrols at night, but I’m glad we’re able to get folks back into their homes safely.”
To gain entrance, Red Canyon residents must present identification such as a driver’s license. Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies will continue to patrol the area through the night. Crews will continue fire suppression activities, conducting mop-up operations and extinguishing hot spots as they continue to secure the fire’s perimeter for the next several days.
Lightning likely sparked it
Lightning likely sparked the Red Canyon II Fire late Sunday afternoon. It grew to 26 acres overnight, up from five acres.
The fire is burning mainly sagebrush on Forest Service land, between Edwards and Wolcott, on a ridge about one-third of a mile east of the Red Canyon Estates subdivision.
To get there, crews are taking trucks and backcountry vehicles up Red Canyon Road as far as they can and hiking in from there, Mayville said.
Two other small fires were reported along Interstate 70 at around the same time that the Red Canyon II Fire was reported, the Eagle River Fire Protection District said.
Mayville said crews are approaching the fire with the classic strategy, the Three Ps.
“We have three overarching priorities with suppressing this fire — protecting people, private property and powerlines,” Mayville said. “We’re fortunate to have such strong partnerships with local cooperators and appreciate their assistance and quick action. With dry conditions and active fire activity around the region, everyone pulling together is imperative.”
No fly zone
A Type 3 helicopter dropped water on the fire through the late afternoon and early evening Sunday and most of the day Monday.
Earlier Monday morning, someone was hang gliding or parasailing near the fire.
The pilot was flying in the normal way and along the same route that parasailing pilots fly in the Wolcott area — not directly over the fire, but near enough that if the helicopter had been flying, it could have been a problem.
It’s more common for people to fly drones over or near fires, said Kate Jerman, public information officer with the U.S. Forest Service, who added that in her tenure with the Forest Service, she’d never seen anything quite like it.
“That’s why we tell people, ‘If you fly, we cannot,'” Mayville said.
Crews gaining on Lake Christine Fire
A few miles away in the Roaring Fork Valley, crews continue to get a handle on the Lake Christine Fire.
The fire started Tuesday, July 3, when a pair of El Jebel residents allegedly sparked the blaze by firing incendiary rounds at a Basalt shooting range.
The 5,916-acre fire was 31 percent contained Monday afternoon and was being battled by 583 firefighters, including 16 hand crews, 35 engines, three water tenders and five helicopters.
The Lake Christine Fire is located one mile northwest of Basalt.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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