Sugarloaf Fire continues slow growth over weekend
Blaze edges past 1,200 acres
Grand County’s Sugarloaf Fire, located in a remote segment of US Forest Service land southwest of the town of Winter Park, continued its slow growth over the weekend.
As of Sunday afternoon the fire was listed at 1,270 acres on the interagency information management website InciWeb. Sunday’s burn area represents only a slight increase from early last week when federal officials were listing the fire at slightly less than 1,200 acres. Fire officials calculate the Sugarloaf Fire’s containment at 20 percent and are still listing Aug. 31 as the estimated containment date.
“With the existing weather conditions, the fire has slowed its spread, but it continues to creep and smolder, back down slopes with some single tree torching,” stated fire officials. “With fire behavior today, we expect the fire to continue to spread in the upper reaches of the Darling Creek drainage.”
Officials stated they expect increased fire behavior and fire growth if the Sugarloaf blaze crosses Darling Creek. Weather in the Fraser Valley was overcast with scattered rain showers Saturday afternoon but according to officials no moisture had fallen in the area of the fire as of Sunday.
All necessary work for structure protection, including homes in the area as well as Henderson Mill and Mine infrastructure, has been completed, according to federal reports.
Fire crews have plans in place to test water system preparations on structures around Trails End Ranch and Ute Park. Fire crews will also continue monitoring the fire in in the Darling Creek area and side drainages to the west. The Sugarloaf Fire, slightly northwest of the Sugarloaf Campground area, is burning primarily in the Darling Creek drainage just west of St. Louis Peak and Mount Nystrom.
As firefighters continue their efforts Sunday they will be looking to complete construction of a helispot while also continuing aerial water delivery on the southwest and northwest sides of the fire. If the fire continues to spread to portions of the forest west of its current location it will creep closer to the Henderson Mine and Mill complex’s conveyor belt system as well as the western terminus of the tunnel the conveyor belt goes through when traversing the continental divide.
The Sugarloaf Fire is being fought “under a suppression strategy,” according to federal reports. Terry Baker, deputy forest supervisor for the Arapaho National Forest, explained last week that the Forest Service is being cautious in their suppression efforts, taking into account the remote nature of the area as well as the hazard posed to firefighters by the steep rugged terrain of the area as well as the extensive landscape of trees impacted by beetle-kill pine.
“Fire personnel are actively suppressing this fire in areas where they can safely work,” Baker stated.
According to federal officials the Sugarloaf Fire was ignited by a lightning strike in the area on June 28.
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