Sylvan Fire incident team to scale back operations as blaze hits 44% containment |

Sylvan Fire incident team to scale back operations as blaze hits 44% containment

Kelli Duncan, Nate Peterson and Pam Boyd
Vail Daily
A firefighter chops down a burning tree while working the Sylvan Fire outside of Eagle.
Photo from InciWeb

EAGLE — Firefighters are making steady progress on the Sylvan Fire, and the Rocky Mountain Type I Incident Team assigned to the area plans to scale back firefighting personnel by the end of the week.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 402 personnel assigned to the 3,792-acre blaze, which remains at 44% containment.

Firefighters are working to secure the perimeter of the fire over the course of the next few days, according to a Wednesday morning update from incident command.

The teams will work diligently to further increase containment of the fire before the Rocky Mountain Type I Incident Team transitions out at the end of the week.

The fire remains at 3,792 acres, just under 6 square miles, as of Wednesday morning. The area received about one-tenth of an inch of rain throughout the evening Tuesday and a chance of rain persists through Thursday.

The incident team’s fire behavior analyst reported that even heavy fuels in the area are starting to show a slight increase in moisture content.

This has helped “subdue fire behavior,” which is now limited to “creeping and smoldering.”

Temperatures are expected to rise this weekend, but the chance of rain and damp weather will remain, playing in the favor of further fire containment.

Sylvan Fire at a glance

Location: Eagle County, White River National Forest in Sylvan Lake State Park, 70 miles southwest of Summit County

Size: 3,792 acres

Fuel: Spruce-fir

Cause: Suspected lightning

Date of ignition: June 20

Firefighting personnel: 402

Containment: 44%

The two branches of the incident management team have been working tirelessly to establish more fire lines to contain the fire along its perimeter, according to a release.

One of the divisions assigned within these two branches has been almost entirely contained and firefighters are working to establish a line along the fire’s perimeter South of Sylvan Lake where terrain allows.

Firefighters have also completed a containment line along the Mount Thomas Trail ridgeline and down into the drainage basin.

On Wednesday, additional fire crews were sent to the northwestern part of the fire, which has been identified as a priority area for laying down more fire line.

The recent moisture has actually made it harder for crews to build fire lines because the fine fuels — grasses and other small plants — can’t be burned to help create fire lines, according to public information officer Tracy LeClair.

Another problem is the steep, densely wooded terrain in the fire perimeter. Those areas are difficult for firefighters to reach. In fact, LeClair said it’s going to require heavy equipment in some areas to clear the way for firefighting crews.

While firefighters continue to work, LeClair said fire and law enforcement officials keep hearing about hikers and backpackers in the closed-off areas of the forest.

“We really need people to stay out of there,” LeClair said, not just for hikers’ safety but also for the safety of firefighters.

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