Church Park Fire may flare up this afternoon |

Church Park Fire may flare up this afternoon

Reid Armstrong
Sky-Hi News
Fraser, CO Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News | Sky-Hi News

FRASER – Cooler temperatures overnight helped control a 530-acre wildfire burning on the southwest side of Sheep Mountain near Fraser, but warmer weather and higher winds this afternoon are expected to make the fire more active, according to incident commander Geoff Bell who spoke at a noon press conference.

As the fire flares up Monday afternoon, smoke is likely to increase, but overall the weather forecast looks favorable to help firefighters with the effort, Bell said.

Yesterday, 43,000 gallons of fire retardant were dropped on the fire, and four helicopters, including two heavies, one medium, and one light, and five air tankers have been attacking the fire since early this morning.

The goal is to extinguish it completely said incident spokesperson Nowell Curran, adding that more than 200 firefighters along with 10 engines are on the ground, creating and manning fire lines around the boundary of the fire.

“With respect to weather patterns and its proximity to subdivisions in the area, we are trying to put it out completely,” Curran said.

At noon today, Oct. 4, the fire was still considered uncontained, moving slowly away from nearby residential neighborhoods. The closest structure is about 2 miles away.

For a map of the fire go to:

Officials believe the fire to be human-caused based on its location and information from some passersby. Sheriff Rod Johnson is working with the U.S. Forest Service to investigate.

Numerous 911 calls from public began pouring into the Grand County Sheriff’s Office starting at approximately 12:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, as the fire quickly erupted in an area dense with beetle kill, growing to more than 300 acres in the span of several hours, Curran said.

Hot Sulphur District Ranger Craig Magwire recognized the local agencies and Forest Service for their “tremendous job” as well as the many local businesses who have supplied food and coffee to crews.

He also commended the many property owners who worked to prepare for something like this, removing trees from their property and creating fire breaks around their houses.

Sheriff Johnson said the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch, which has cleared thousands of acres of trees from its property since fire broke out there in June 2007, has been a leader in fire mitigation. The northwest side of Sheep Mountain is located on YMCA property.

Johnson added that while he doesn’t think evacuations are going to be necessary, “We are planning for the worst.”

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