County, federal officials host pre-evac community meeting in Old Park
Dozens of residents and homeowners of Old Park showed up for a pre-evacuation community meeting Monday night at Kremmling Fire’s Old Park fire station to hear from local authorities about the ongoing danger posed by the Silver Creek Fire.
According to county officials, Monday night’s pre-evacuation community meeting was prompted by the spread of the Silver Creek Fire earlier in the day. Monday night’s meeting followed the issuance of evacuation orders for Latigo Ranch on Monday afternoon after the fire spread across specific predetermined action points put in place by fire officials.
Monday night’s meeting in Old Park, located on Highway 134 north of Kremmling and west of Wolford Mountain Reservoir, featured brief informational presentations by officials from the U.S. Forest Service, Grand County EMS, Grand County Sheriff’s Office and Grand County Office of Emergency Management.
“The fire has transitioned to the point where we feel it is important for us to talk to all of you,” Chief Ray Jennings with Grand County EMS said at the outset of the meeting.
Jennings went on to review the basic precautions emergency officials are recommending residents of Old Park take in preparation for any future evacuation orders including the preparing a “go-kit” and gathering prescription medications. According to Jennings if any evacuation orders are issued for Old Park the CSU Extension Hall in Kremmling is set to serve as the initial primary relocation point for impacted citizens. Officials from the U.S. Forest Service estimated the total number of homes impacted by pre-evacuation orders in Old Park at around 200.
Kevin Thompson, Fire Management Officer for the Routt National Forest, said the fire’s size as of Monday morning was around 2,300 acres. According to Thompson, a segment of the Silver Creek Fire recently expanded southwards towards Latigo Ranch, prompting additional concern from emergency officials. Thompson said the fire is currently about one-and-a-half miles from Latigo Ranch and roughly three miles from the closest Old Park residences.
Federal fire officials said they expect an improvement in conditions, related to wind and humidity, in the next few days but expect worsening conditions as the weekend approaches. Thompson informed meeting attendees that additional resources, including aerial resources, have been requested for the Silver Creek Fire. He noted that ongoing fires throughout the western United States are straining available resources nationwide and as such he was unaware if the request for additional resources would be approved.
“Additional resources are pretty much tapped out,” Thompson told the crowd.
As local and federal officials continue to work on pre-evacuation plans local residents were nervously considering the future.
John Paul Jones and his wife Barbara call La Grange, Texas, their primary residence but the couple owns a second home in Old Park.
“We are right up at the top of the hill on the forest border. We are not in a good place to start with,” Jones said. “It is stressful. We have been tracking the fire for several weeks now, obviously it is progressing in the wrong direction.”
If the Joneses do receive evacuation orders, they are prepared to leave. The couple said their valuables are already packed and ready to go and they are simply waiting for any future evacuation notification.
Likewise, Old Park area resident Rudy Garcia was contemplating the current fire situation from the Kremmling Fire station Monday evening.
“It was eventual that something like this was going to happen,” he said. “Grand County has kind of skirted the fire deal for the last 10 to 15 years.”
Garcia said he has plans already in place in the event evacuation orders are issued for Old Park.
Another community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. in the same location, if evacuation orders are not issued before that time.
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