Update: Dice Hill Fire now 60% contained

A helicopter releases a bucket of water on the Dice Hill Fire on Tuesday, July 21. Firefighters from various federal and county agencies are working to fight the fire, which began Monday and threatened a house on the Blue Valley Ranch along with the Shadow Creek subdivision. Jason Connolly /
Special to the Summit Daily

FRISCO — The Dice Hill Fire on the north end of Summit County has been 60% contained and didn’t grow Tuesday, according to officials with the Bureau of Land Management.

The fire was first reported at about 12:30 p.m. Monday, when calls started pouring in regarding a large plume of smoke northwest of Heeney. The fire initially was estimated to be burning about 10 acres but quickly grew to about 30 acres by Monday afternoon with flames up to 30 feet tall.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but it likely was caused by lightning given its location, according to Maribeth Pecotte, a public affairs specialist with the Bureau of Land Management.

Firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management along with Grand and Summit counties led the initial response to the fire — about 100 firefighters in total — along with considerable air support provided by helicopters and large air tankers dropping slurry and water around the area.

The fire is burning in heavy timber on steep slopes with dead and downed trees. The blaze has spread within a half-mile of structures, but none have been damaged, according to Pecotte.

A preevacuation notice was given for the Shadow Creek subdivision Monday and remains in effect. Dice Hill Road is closed at its intersection with Spring Creek Road.

Pecotte said officials flew a multimission aircraft — planes equipped with infrared and color sensors — over the area Monday night and determined the blaze was about 27 acres on Bureau of Land Management land.

The fire calmed down Monday night, helped by cooler temperatures and higher humidity, but officials expected things to pick back up Tuesday with a high of 85 degrees and light winds in the area.

“Typically, what we hope to see is the fire activity lay down at night because the relative humidity increases to suppress the fire behavior, and the temperatures cool down,” Pecotte said Tuesday morning. “… Right now, it’s really just not doing a lot, but as the temperature increases and it gets a breeze, it may come back up. … With air support, we’ll be able to hopefully keep it suppressed where its at.”

Firefighters were successful in their attempts. The fire didn’t grow Tuesday thanks to helicopter dumps of water on hot spots and firefighters working to create containment lines, according to Pecotte. Officials aren’t expecting much movement overnight.

Rain is in the forecast for Wednesday and much of the rest of the week.

Pecotte said federal agencies are taking the lead on suppression, including the Craig Interagency Hotshot Crew and the McKenzie River Type 2 Initial Attack Crew. The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service also have engines at the fire along with support from the sheriff’s offices in Summit and Grand counties.

With federal resources already on scene, Summit County has pulled back its fire resources. Steve Lipsher, a spokesperson for Summit Fire & EMS, confirmed the agency didn’t have any crews on scene Tuesday morning.

Summit County officials are asking residents to keep an eye on things and prepare for the worst.

“As of now, there’s definitely no big concern,” said Brian Bovaird, Summit County’s director of emergency management. “But my concern is always just how quickly these things can take off.”

Bovaird said Summit County residents and visitors should take a couple of minutes to sign up for Summit County Alert, a system the county uses to send emergency notifications via phone, text and email.

Bovaird also said residents should take the time to make sure they have everything ready in the event of an evacuation. During wildfire season, community members should be ready to leave on short notice and should be prepared with evacuation kits filled with essentials like food, water, medication, clothes, cellphone charger, essential documents and more. Kits also should contain anything needed for infants, pets or anyone else in the household who may need special care.

“Anytime there’s something like this, the biggest message is for people to have that subscription to (Summit County) Alert so we can get information out quickly and for people to make sure they’re personally prepared,” Bovaird said.

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