Weather helps calm Sylvan fire, but extinguishing it ‘will take time’ |

Weather helps calm Sylvan fire, but extinguishing it ‘will take time’

Ali Longwell, Nate Peterson and John LaConte
Vail Daily
A helicopter works the Sylvan Fire outside of Eagle.
Photo from Sylvan Fire Information

EAGLE — Aided by the weather, the Sylvan Fire burning 70 miles southwest of Summit County did not grow much overnight Wednesday into Thursday.

“The weather has been helping us,” said David Boyd, public affairs officer for the White River National Forest. Wednesday’s cooler temperatures, higher humidity and cloud cover in the Eagle area helped to moderate the fire behavior and allow firefighters to be more direct in fighting the fire.

The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team took over management Thursday morning, bringing more resources and more capacity to tackle the fire, which has burned 3,752 acres or nearly 5.9 square miles.

According to Operations Section Chief Rob Powell in a Facebook Live update Thursday morning, four helicopters and 200 people are assigned to the fire with more on the way.

However, resources are stretched thin regionally and nationally according to Powell.

“Resources nationally, even though it’s still June, are extremely short,” Powell said. ”Most of our Hotshot crews in the region, all of them are assigned to fires in our region. Aircraft is short. This is something we’ll have to deal with throughout the summer.“

Aided by weather

With the cooler weather here to stay for the next few days, Boyd said it will allow the teams to begin working on the “critical pieces” of the fire and fight “right up against what’s burning.”

That includes the area where the fire burned down to Sylvan Lake on Tuesday as well as the south side of the blaze where crews will attempt to keep the fire from the Frying Pan drainage area.

Sylvan Fire at a glance

Location: Eagle County, White River National Forest in Sylvan Lake State Park, 16 miles south of Eagle

Size: 3,752 acres

Fuel: Spruce-fir

Cause: Suspected lightning, under investigation

Date of Ignition: June 20

Firefighting personnel: 200 and counting

With this weather expected to continue over the next few days, the crews will be doing all they can to “box it in,” Boyd said.

That includes finding places where the crews can hold the fire, using existing roads and natural features — such as meadows and rocky slopes — as firelines.

However, Boyd was careful to note that after these cooler days, the area is expecting hotter and dryer weather, bringing about more fire activity and more smoke.

“This will take time,” he said. “This fire is going to be here for a while as we’re boxing it in. There’s a lot of timber that will still burn.”

Powell echoed that sentiment Thursday morning, expecting success over the next few days while remaining cautious about the fire.

It’s not normal what we’re seeing any more,” said Powell, referring to the increasing wildfire danger over the past few years. “We have to plan for a bigger event. We’re taking advantage of the weather and the resources we have to engage the fire direct, but also looking at farther out options to get established.”

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