Small wildfire still burning in wilderness area near Silverthorne
August 17, 2009
SUMMIT COUNTY – A hiking trail has been closed and folks are advised to avoid the area west of Silverthorne in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area, where a local wildfire of about a quarter acre continues to burn.
The South Willow Creek Trail is closed westbound from the Gore Range Trail, between Red and Buffalo peaks.
Firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service and Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue hiked to the Willow Fire – which started Monday afternoon – on Tuesday morning to determine the best management approach, according to a USFS press release.
“Because the fire is burning in a wilderness area, forest officials will take into consideration letting natural processes occur,” according to the press release.
Visible smoke may be expected Tuesday as temperatures rise.
LDFR public information officer Steve Lipsher said Unaweep Fire Module from Grand Junction is in Silverthorne and prepared to “go in and set up a camp” if needed, though there doesn’t seem to be an immediate danger.
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“What we’re saying at this point is that there are no developed areas that are immediately threatened,” he said.
Lightning strikes had been reported in the area on Sunday night, although the cause of the fire has not been determined.
Lipsher said late August “is not an uncommon time for wildfires.”
“We’re getting into monsoon season, which is both good and bad,” he said. “Monsoonal rains diminish danger (and) often bring lightning but sometimes not a whole lot of rain.”
He said dead and downed trees comprise much of the fire’s fuel, but that not all of them are mountain pine beetle infested.
“It did torch a couple trees last night,” he said. “The fire went all the way up the tree.”
A Forest Service helicopter flew over the fire Monday evening, and observers estimated the fire to be burning in pine at about 9,500 feet in elevation.
Smoke was clearly visible to travelers coming down Interstate 70 from the Eisenhower Tunnel on Monday afternoon, and residents in the area are advised to keep informed of the fire through local media or subscribing to the automated Summit County Alert system at http://www.scalert.org.