Duck Pond Fire day two: Fire grows to 88 acres overnight, mop up operations in effect
Some evacuations lifted, while some down valley residents remain displaced
Late showers on Saturday and cloudy conditions Sunday offered some relief to firefighters battling the Duck Pond Fire in Gypsum, though persistent winds and dry fuels continue to complicate their efforts.
“It’s actually very dry, so what we’re seeing is wind-driven, coupled with the dry fuels is allowing the fire to come into the area,“ said Hugh Fairfield-Smith, Type 3 incident commander trainee who answered a Q&A hosted by Justin Kirkland, fire chief of the Gypsum Fire Protection district on the Eagle County PIO Facebook Page Sunday morning.
“We did receive a little bit of moisture last night but not enough to make a drastic difference in fire behavior, and now the cloud cover is keeping the fire behavior relatively at bay. Our big concern would be if we saw some sunlight and preheating was able to come into effect, and also the winds. Winds are expected to be gusty this afternoon, so that’s our biggest concern.“
Colorado State Multi-Mission Aircraft flew over the fire, mapping it at roughly 88 acres, a significant increase from the 25-30 acres estimated early Saturday evening.
“The fire is in the river corridor really only, so it burned right up to the tracks and has not gone on to the south side of the railroad tracks, and that was a good news for us as firefighters,” Fairfield-Smith said. “We are working with Union Pacific to help get water on the railroad tracks there to help keep that at bay. It did burn right up to the homes, right on the edge of the river there, and again no structures were lost so that was another great win there.”
The firefighting effort is now focused on securing the edge. As of the Sunday update there were 35 firefighters on the ground, doing mop-up operations to secure the perimeter of the area and sure the fire stays north of the tracks. “That is a big reason we are continuing the evacuations for the day, as there is a significant amount of fire activity and firefighter activity going on in that area,“ Fairfield-Smith said.
As for the air quality of the surrounding area, Fairfield-Smith says it will be smoky for some time.
“The fire is in a smoldering phase … There are lots of cottonwoods that caught fire in this situation so those are actually going to burn and smoke for quite some time,” he said.
The incident is currently under investigation, though the cause of fire is currently unknown.
This story will be updated.
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