Gutzler Fire near Kremmling downgraded to 97 acres, no estimated containment level |

Gutzler Fire near Kremmling downgraded to 97 acres, no estimated containment level

The Gutzler Fire (pictured) is currently estimated to cover 97 acres near Kremmling.
Courtesy of the White River National Forest

A wildfire burning near Kremmling was downgraded to 97 acres from 250 on Monday afternoon as smokejumpers and an aircraft continued to battle the blaze and four firefighter hand crews were en route.

It was still too early to estimate how much of the fire was contained, a spokesman for the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit (UCR) said just before 2 p.m. on Monday.

One residence and several ranch structures located a mile east of the fire were being monitored and patrolled by fire engines, but no official evacuations or closures were in place, according to a news release from the UCR.

The blaze, named the Gutlzer Fire, was first reported on Sunday afternoon, July 2, roughly 14 miles southwest of Kremmling and 9 miles west of the Green Mountain Reservoir area.

Smoke was visible from Silverthorne on Monday, as well as from Vail and parts of Eagle County.

The fire was initially estimated to cover around 250 acres, but an aircraft reconnaissance mission this morning more accurately pegged its size at 97 acres.

It is burning primarily toward the south in mixed conifer and beetle kill with isolated torching and spotting, the news release said.

The weather forecast for the area was hot and dry on Monday afternoon with a chance of gusty winds up to 24 miles per hour.

Eight smokejumpers were on scene Monday afternoon and a helicopter was making water bucket dumps. Two single engine air tankers were also on call, and firefighter hand crews were expected to arrive on scene Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Fire danger is currently high across Summit County, and local firefighters have responded to at least three small wildland blazes in the past two weeks.

On Sunday, July 2 a Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue crew extinguished a fire that burned several hundred square feet of vegetation in the Frey Gulch area near Keystone. LDFR is still investigating the cause of the fire but suspects it was human-caused because there was an active squatter’s camp nearby.

At the same time on Sunday, crews were also responding to a report of an unattended campfire in the Salt Lick area near Silverthorne.

On June 21, a Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District crew extinguished a 300-square foot fire near Baldy Mountain that originated from a campfire ring.

There is not a burn ban currently in effect in Summit, although burning slash piles is prohibited.

LDFR spokesman Steve Lipsher said his agency is fully staffed an prepared for the influx of calls that typically accompanies the busy 4th of July weekend — particularly with fire danger so high and unpredictable winds buffeting the area.

“The county is packed to the gills, and emergency service calls are typically correlated to how many people you have around,” he said. “On holiday weekends people are out camping and making fires, and on the 4th people are tempted to set off fireworks even though they are mostly illegal here. Those all contribute to the possibility of wildland fires and even house fires.”

Fireworks of any kind are prohibited in the White River National Forest, and people caught setting off forbidden fireworks anywhere in Summit can be subjected to fines and even jail time.

Breckenridge allows the limited use of fireworks within town limits from July 3 to 5, permitting only small devices that do not leave the ground. Those include wheels, ground spinners, illuminating torches and sparklers. The use or possession of illegal fireworks in Breckenridge is a misdemeanor offense.

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