Wildfire flares in Williams Fork Range in Grand County; Summit County keeping an eye on it
June 28, 2018
Updated at 9:40 p.m.: The Sugarloaf Fire is burning 4.5 miles from Summit County and is now between 800-900 acres in size. Friday will be a red flag day in Summit with high winds and low humidity in the forecast. The weather service is predicting the fire will head east, but the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and Summit Fire & EMS have contingency plans in place if the fire shifts directions.
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Updated at 7:43 p.m.: The Sugarloaf Fire has now reached 200 acres in size according to Chief Jeff Berino of Summit Fire & EMS. Despite the rapid growth, Berino noted that as of now the fire isn’t an imminent threat to Summit County.
Meanwhile the Grand Lake Fire, currently called the Golf Course Fire, continues to grow as well, spurring evacuations of between 200 and 300 people in the area as first reported by Sky-Hi News. Fire engines from Summit Fire & EMS and Red White & Blue are currently assisting with the blaze, according to Berino.
The county has also issued an emergency Stage 2 fire restriction on the recommendation of Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons. The restriction will officially go into effect on Friday morning.
At 5:30 p.m., the town of Frisco also enacted stage 2 fire restrictions. The restrictions prohibit all outdoor fires including in developed camping or picnic grounds, private fireworks, welding, use of chainsaws without an approved spark arrestor and other safety devices and outdoor disposal of any cigarette, marijuana, cigar or match. Earlier in the day, the town of Frisco also canceled planned July 4th fireworks.
A wildfire burning in Grand County has Summit County officials on high alert. Earlier today a fire broke out near the Sugarloaf Campground and Henderson Mill south of Kremmling, and quickly grew from 20 acres to more than 40, according to Christian Hornbaker, emergency manager for Grand County.
Hornbaker said fire crews in Grand County have the fire under control, and plan to let it burn naturally to a certain point. Crews from Grand Fire, East Grand Fire and the Hot Sulphur Springs/Parshall Fire Protection District are currently on the scene.
"They're just going to let it burn up to a point where they don't want it to pass," said Hornbaker.
Still, Summit officials are taking precautions. Summit Fire & EMS Chief Jeff Berino said officials are already working on contingency plans should the blaze pass into Summit County. The fire, dubbed the Sugarloaf Fire, is burning primarily beetle kill wilderness on Forest Service land which limits what types of responses are available to firefighters.
"What worries me is that the smoke column is bending west, meaning it might come over the hill into Summit," said Berino. He added that it's possible the fire would necessitate an aerial response similar to the one that assisted with the Buffalo Fire two weeks ago.
A giant plume of smoke can be seen from around Summit County, but officials are asking the public not to call 911. At this point there is no danger to Summit County structures or residents, though Berino noted they're considering issuing pre-evacuation notices to residents north of Silverthorne and east of Highway 9 if it continues to creep closer.
As reported by the Sky-Hi News, there were two campgrounds in the vicinity of the fire — The South Fork and Sugarloaf Campgrounds —which were evacuated, though the evacuations have since been lifted.
The Sugarloaf Fire was the first of two to break out in Grand County today, as officials are still dealing with a smaller quarter-acre blaze near Grand Lake, according to Hornbaker.
Another fire, the Jones Hill Fire, also broke out today just south of Fairplay. At just 15 acres, it isn’t considered a threat to Summit County, according to a representative from Red White & Blue Fire Protection District. There are currently no evacuation orders in place in the area, nor are any structures considered to be in immediate danger.
Summit County Fire & EMS also just gave emergency approval for the county to move into Stage 2 fire restrictions. This means that no fires, charcoal grills, outdoor smoking or chimineas are allowed. In addition all firework shows in the county have been canceled, and personal fireworks of any kind are strictly prohibited.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Deepan Dutta assisted in reporting this story.