UPDATES: Muddy Slide Fire grows to 156 acres; voluntary evacuation order issued
Stage 2 fire restrictions are now in place in all local, state and private land in Routt County, just a week after putting Stage 1 restrictions in place
5:35 p.m.: A voluntary evacuation order is in the process of being issued effective immediately for homes and structures within Zone 1, which encompasses South Stagecoach from milemarker 12 on Routt County Road 16 to Colorado Highway 134. That’s estimated to total 10 to 15 homes, but it’s uncertain how many are actually occupied, according to the Routt County Office of Emergency Management. An evacuation center is being established at Soroco High School.
5:24 p.m.: There is a pyrocumulus cloud forming above the smoke plume coming out of the Muddy Slide Fire. Cass Cairns, public affairs officer with the Bureau of Land Management, said when fires get really active like this one is right now, it can form its own weather.
“Winds could shift and that type of thing,” Cairns said. “It just depends on how heavy the fuels are and the direction the fire is going. That right now (about 4:13 p.m.) is just showing that it is obviously extremely active.”
There are still three helicopters working on the fire, and there have been requests to get retardant drops on the fire, Cairns said. Neither is meant to put the fire out but to slow it down.
5:09 p.m.: The Muddy Slide Fire didn’t have much smoke this morning, but since around 2 p.m., the fire has become very active. The hours of 2 to 5 p.m. are considered prime burning hours because it is the heat of the day. Red flag warnings are in effect because of a combination of how low humidity is and gusts of winds up to 30 miles per hour.
4:15 p.m.: Emergency responders have notified town of Oak Creek officials that the Muddy Slide Fire will likely interrupt electric service provided by one of the town’s electric power providers, accordingto David Torgler, town administrator and clerk. If this happens, Torgler said town staff will need to shut down electric service for up to 30 minutes to switch the electric load entirely over to the town’s other provider. No time for the outage was given, but Oak Creek residents are advised to prepare for it to happen.
4:10 p.m.: An air advisory was issued at 3:30 p.m. for southern portions of Routt County and will remain in effect until 9 a.m. Wednesday. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, moderate to heavy smoke from the Muddy Slide Fire will move to the east and southeast of the fire through Tuesday evening, and mostly remain aloft, which will minimize public health impacts. However, by late Tuesday evening, smoke will begin to settle and drain down slope toward populated areas. This will bring the possibility for periods of moderate to heavy smoke to Yampa and Taponas through early Wednesday morning.
3:40 p.m.: Routt County Road 16 has been closed to traffic due to fire activity.
3:15 p.m.: The Muddy Slide Fire is showing increased activity. Livestock near the fire could be moved to the Toponas riding arena if needed, and emergency responders are trying to secure a water source.
Original story: The Muddy Slide Fire burning in South Routt County was mapped at 156 acres on Monday, as the first road and trail closures because of the fire have gone into place.
Routt County Commissioners moved the county into Stage 2 fire restrictions at noon Wednesday, less than a week after Stage 1 restrictions were initially put in place. The city of Steamboat Springs quickly followed suit.
Red flag warnings have been put in place again today — the fourth day in a row — because winds are expected to gust up to 30 miles per hour and humidity is in the single digits.
Red Flag Warning in effect for all of eastern UT and western CO today from noon to 9 PM MDT. Gusty winds, low relative humidity and extremely dry vegetation will be favorable for easy ignition and rapid fire spread. #COWx #UTWx pic.twitter.com/1JF0zL7dC5— NWS Grand Junction (@NWSGJT) June 22, 2021
Fire activity was minimal Monday as aerial drops and favorable weather held the fire in check, according to Cass Cairns, spokesperson for the fire. Crews are focused on the south side of the fire, as that is the direction it has been spreading in the past few days, though future growth of the fire is expected to be to the east and north.
“They are working on the south side of the perimeter above Muddy Slide, and they will be assisted with three large helicopters to drop water and keep the fire from spreading,” Cairns said.
Part of Routt County Road 16 from the intersection with Colorado Highway 134 up to mile marker 8 has been closed, though residents are still able to use the road. The closure is because of firefighter traffic on the road, not because it is in danger from the fire right now, said Cass Cairns, public information officer for the fire.
The U.S. Forest Service also has closed roads and trails in the Yampa Ranger District of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. Closures include the Morrison Divide Trail from the Lynx Pass trail head north to the Lower Morrison Divide trail head, Green Ridge Road from the forest boundary north and Morrison Creek Road from Lynx Pass to the north.
There are about 80 people working on the fire including two crews, eight engines, three type-one helicopters and one type-three helicopter. A type-one helicopter is the largest and can hold water or fire retardant if available, where the type-three helicopter is smaller, mainly used for transporting supplies and not making drops.
Aerial resources to fight fires are limited across the state and are allocated based on how much the fire is threatening public safety, Cairns said.
“They just prioritize based on key values and how big it is and the potential for it to spread even further,” Cairns said. “For us right now, we are just on the lower end of (priority), but it doesn’t mean we can’t get the resources.”
This is in a sense a good thing, Cairns said, because the fire isn’t as a severe a threat to property as other fires in the state like the Sylvan Fire in Eagle County, which was first reported at the same time as the Muddy Slide Fire on Sunday, but has since grown to 2,630 acres.
There is a large air tanker based in Jefferson County, and Cairns said they could request a drop, but it will respond to the highest priority first.
There isn’t any talk of extending pre-evacuation orders beyond residents who live in Green Ridge or South Stagecoach areas at this time, Cairns said. Any pre-evacuation orders would come from Routt County.
Stage 2 fire restrictions mean that all campfires or other open fires are prohibited. Even if someone has an approved permit for a fire, it would need to get reapproved with the change in restrictions. Smoking is limited to cars and buildings; fireworks and other explosives are no allowed.
“We haven’t seen dry conditions like this in quite some time,” said Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Chuck Cerasoli. “It will take commitment from everyone to help spread the word on the Stage 2 fire restrictions.”
1. All open fires and campfires are prohibited except petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns, and heating devices that are underwriter approved.
NOTE: Any permit issued by a fire protection district, the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, or the Routt County Office of Emergency Management prior to this Declaration is rescinded unless resubmitted and approved by the appropriate authority as identified in paragraph 1 of the Exemptions section of this fire restriction notice, or until these restrictions are lifted by the Routt County Board of County Commissioners.
2. Smoking is restricted to enclosed vehicles and buildings.
3. All chainsaws and other internal combustion engines, including motorcycles and ATVs, must have spark-arresting devices that are properly installed and in working order.
4. Use of fireworks of any variety.
5. Use of explosives.
6. Outdoor use of welding and cutting torch devices.
7. Use of tracer rounds or incendiary targets for all shooting activities in the county.
8. Individual agencies (such as fire protection districts, or state or federal organizations) may further restrict commercial activities not included in this Declaration such as construction, logging, or oil and gas operations.
Source: Routt County
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