Weather minimizes growth of Williams Fork Fire as firefighters focus on containment
Moderate weather allowed fire managers to focus on containment lines as the Williams Fork Fire grew 831 acres Thursday.
The fire remains 3% contained at 10,288 acres one week after the blaze started. Preparation is on-going for structures threatened by the fire in the Experimental Forest and has begun in the Henderson Mill area.
“We had a fair amount of cloud cover this afternoon and the fire didn’t really get established like it did (Wednesday),” Mike Johnston, deputy operations section chief, said during Thursday’s evening update.
Johnston said rain touched on parts of the fire, and the blaze moved relatively slowly throughout the day.
The growth on Thursday took place on the southeast and south areas of the fire. The fire did not grow toward Fraser and Winter Park, remaining 7 miles northeast from the fire at the nearest point. Crews are working on a contingency line near the experimental forest to provide a boundary if the fire does push toward Fraser.
On Wednesday, the fire ran about 3 miles south and southeast due to strong winds from Thursday’s thunderstorm. Johnston added that the fire did burn around a power line, but caused no blackouts as the power was re-diverted. The power company will be assessing damage in next couple days.
Johnston said there was also one spot fire on the south side of Williams Fork.
Friday’s efforts will continue focusing on structure preparation while improving the fire line on the west and southeast areas. Officials expect increased fire activity through the weekend due to weather and beetle killed trees, warmer temperatures and low relative humidity.
In a Friday morning update, lead spokesman Ryan Harris said that smoke and a column could grow today due to the weather. Crews are working to keep the fire on the west side of the Continental Divide, and Harris added that that terrain works as a good containment feature for the fire because of its minimal fuels.
Crews will also be looking at the Denver Water improvements at the head of Williams Fork for ways to protect those resources if the blaze moves that direction.
Johnston said that they are working with the National Guard for additional aviation support that should be coming in the next few days.
As for tourists visiting the county, Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin asked for visitors to be aware of closures and to stay out of those areas. Visitors should “know before you go” and can download the CodeRED app to receive geographically-based notifications.
“Stay away from here and focus on the rest of the county,” Schroetlin said.
He mentioned that Thursday saw a small 25 by 100 foot grass fire near Grand Lake caused by an electrocuted bird. Grand Lake Fire responded and that fire has been entirely contained.
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