Silver Creek Fire continues spread, containment rate down to 35 percent
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the cause for the speed reduction on Highway 40.
Growth of the Silver Creek Fire continues on Saturday as strong winds, dry conditions and warm temperatures persist.
The fire was last estimated at 9,425 acres and most of the growth is still concentrated on the north side with an active spot on the south near Latigo Ranch. Officials are listing a containment rate of 35 percent.
Latigo Ranch, Yost Ranch, Old Park and Gore Lakes have been evacuated and officials expect the evacuation to continue through the weekend while the Type II Incident Command team takes over and attempts to get a handle on the fire. Highway 134 remains closed.
Highway 40 has not been closed but speeds on the portion of the highway near the Silver Creek Fire have been reduced due to the Type II team setting up an incident command post and fire equipment coming and going from that location.
The Bear Mountain Ranch, Rabbit Ears Village and Lake Agnes areas remain on pre-evacuation notice. The fire is still three to five miles from the closest structures on the north and northeast edges.
No structures have been lost yet.
The Type II command team took over Friday night and over 200 people are now assigned to the fire, with more on the way. Other resources include three air tankers, four helicopters, a multi-mission aircraft and several engines.
“Our team plans on building largely on the previous successes of the local Type III organization,” said Type II incident commander Michael Haydon.
Right now, southern containment lines are still holding, but spots are a concern. The fire also continues to burn in the interior islands, which is expected to continue until snow falls.
“It’s actually a good thing because the more it burns out the less there is to burn, but I would say you are going to continue to see those interior islands burn out within the existing perimeters which could threaten those containment lines,” said Eric Stahlin, Type III incident commander at the Friday evening community briefing.
The fire is being fought under a full suppression strategy.
Over 53,000 gallons of slurry and 18 air tanker loads have been dropped on the fire, as well as about 1,200 gallons of water every five to ten minutes, according to Stahlin.
The fire has spotted across Milk Creek, but has yet to cross Franz Creek. Though wind speed may diminish slightly, other weather conditions are predicted to remain the same for about a week, so crews are preparing for further spread.
“With the recent push, fire operations personnel have decided to do fireline prep work to the northeast of the current fire activity,” fire officials said. “This is the safest option with the highest probability of success.”
Prep work includes clearing out fuels, particularly on the north and northeast sides, and creating a clean perimeter to prevent spread.
The fire has crossed onto the Milk Creek State Trust, so Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order to provide state financial resources to the firefighting efforts.
The Milk Creek State Wildlife Area has also been evacuated.
Officials have set up a call line at 307-840-9810 for residents to ask questions, which will operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
If the evacuation continues through Monday, another community briefing will take place that evening, Chief of Grand County EMS Ray Jennings said.
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