Local, forest officials on high alert with fire burning northeast of Kremmling
The Black Mountain Fire showed little growth overnight Monday as fire crews are looking for rain later this week to help them get containment on the flames.
Burning about 170 acres northeast of Kremmling, west of Slide Mountain off County Road 2, fire crews have been utilizing air and ground resources to battle the fire. A Type 3 Incident Management Team took over Monday.
The fire was first reported around 1 p.m. Sunday. Its cause remains under investigation. On Sunday, the blaze was estimated to have burned about 150 acres. By Monday afternoon, that figure was up to 170 acres.
There are 10 structures in the area currently considered at risk, and two areas on the Grand County Evacuation Map — K11 north of Parshall and the west side of HSS21 north of Hot Sulphur Springs — are under pre-evacuation orders.
Anyone living in those areas is encouraged to have their things packed and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice in case full evacuation orders are issued.
The county’s evacuation map is available at http://www.co.grand.co.us/156/Office-of-Emergency-Management. Additionally, the Routt National Forest has issued a closure area for the fire.
Routt National Forest Public Information Officer Aaron Voos said the fire mostly burned fuels in the area on Monday and didn’t make any big runs or spread pushed by winds.
“It allowed us to get some of our resources in and develop a plan to approach this fire, so (there are) lots of positives with the way the fire behaved,” Voos said of Monday’s growth.
He added that getting aerial resources to drop fire retardant soon after the fire was reported has helped immensely to slow the fire’s growth. The majority of the fire is burning toward the south and southeast direction.
Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said his office is working closely with fire partners to determine pre-evacuation and evacuation orders. Though the Black Mountain Fire started in a similar area to the East Troublesome Fire, Schroetlin noted that the two fires are behaving very differently at this point.
“The effects of the East Troublesome Fire are on the minds of all of us and we understand the community’s concern and … we’re diligently watching what’s occurring,” he said.
The weather was hot and dry Sunday and Monday. Tuesday’s forecast called for similar conditions with rain moving into the area today and Thursday. Voos said fire crews are hoping to take advantage of the precipitation and build containment lines.
On Tuesday, two helicopters, one hand crew and several fire engines were working the blaze.
Terrain in the area is a mix of timber and downed trees, as well as sagebrush. Voos said if the fire continues to move south, the terrain becomes mostly sagebrush, which would allow for more direct firefighting.
Additonally, the Black Mountain Fire is burning about two miles west of the East Troublesome burn scar. Voos said it would be unlikely for the fire to continue to burn if it reaches the Troublesome burn scar because of the lack of fuels in the area.
The fire is expected to be an extended-duration fire, meaning it will likely burn through the end of the season.
On Monday, Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment issued an air quality advisory for Grand County, particularly Kremmling, Hot Sulphur Springs, Grand Lake and Granby because of heavy smoke.
If visibility is reduced to less than 5 miles by smoke, it has likely reached unhealthly levels.
If there is thick smoke in your area, public health officials recommend that people may want to remain indoors, especially those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young and the elderly.
It’s also advised to consider limiting outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present, and relocating temporarily if smoke is present indoors or making someone ill.
Grand County is currently under Stage 1 fire restrictions, which limits fires to permanent metal or concrete pits at developed recreation sites or on private property. Dispersed campfires are not allowed.
Schroetlin noted he and county fire partners use a scientific matrix to decide what stage fire restrictions are appropriate.
“It’s important to follow that matrix as we go to lower restrictions the same as when we heighten restrictions,” Schroetlin said.
The following activities and uses are prohibited under Stage 1 restrictions:
• Igniting, building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire (including fires fueled by charcoal or briquettes) outside of a permanent metal or concrete fire pit or grate that the Forest Service has installed and maintained at its developed recreation sites (paid campgrounds and picnic areas).
• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed campground or picnic area or while stopped in an area of at least six feet in diameter that is barren of all combustible materials.
• Operating a chainsaw without an USDA or SAE approved spark-arresting device properly installed and in working order.
• Welding or operating torches with open flame, except in an area of at least ten feet in diameter that is barren of all combustible materials.
• Incendiary devices (Note: fireworks are always illegal on the national forest).
The following activities and uses are allowed under Stage 1 restrictions:
• Open fires in developed campgrounds with fees and hosts or picnic areas with permanently constructed fire grates and/or charcoal grills.
• Fires contained within liquid or gas fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices, and approved wood pellet grills and stoves.
• Open fires at private residences within permanent or portable outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, chimineas, and/or grills.
• Permissible fireworks according to state statute. The permitted, professional fireworks displays in Grand County are allowed. Fireworks are never allowed on the National Forests.
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