Williams Fork Fire expected to transition to Type 1 team
Update 5:30 p.m.: Despite the hot and dry weather conditions Monday, fire managers say the Williams Fork Fire only grew about 300 acres today.
In an evening briefing about the fire, officials said it had reached 6,645 acres and remains 0% contained.
A field operations manager for the Type 2 Incident Command team noted the fire was active today, but didn’t spread much due to northwest winds.
The fire remains approximately seven miles from Fraser, but no pre-evacuation or evacuation orders have been issued for the town.
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office and the Fraser Winter Park Police also released a pre-planning map of evacuation zones for the Fraser Valley should they be needed.
The Fraser Valley evacuation zones can be viewed at gcemergency.com. The numbers differentiating the zones do not equate priority or order.
Update 3 p.m.: Due to the rugged terrain and high amount of available fuel, among other factors, the Williams Fork Fire will transition to a Type 1 Incident Command team later this week.
On Monday morning, a Type 2 team, led by Dave Gesser, took over management of the fire from local officials, bringing the total number of personnel on the fire to around 120. The fire is 6,345 acres and 0% contained.
In an afternoon update, fire managers said crews are working to keep the fire from spreading west over County Road 30 and away from critical infrastructure, such as the Henderson Mill, power and natural gas.
Crews are also working to find places to create containment lines around the north, east and south of the flames.
According to Schelly Olson, public information officer for the fire, the location, resources needed and infrastructure at risk increases the complexity of the fire, which is why the Type 1 team is being called in.
“When you look at where the fire is burning, the fuel is heavy, dead lodgepole pine which is very dangerous,” Olson said. “You can’t put firefighters in there directly sometimes, so that’s a complexity issue.”
Northwest winds have helped keep the fire from spreading toward Fraser, but weather conditions remain hot and dry.
Currently, no structures are threatened, but the Fraser Winter Park Police and the Grand County Sheriff’s Office created an evacuation plan for Fraser if needed. Winter Park Resort is also working with the Forest Service to determine operations.
As of Monday, the resort and Trestle Bike Park continue to operate as normal.
During a Sunday evening briefing, Type 2 Incident commander Ed LeBlanc noted that in a worst-case scenario the fire could spread to town within a day. Since fires are unpredictable, it’s hard for fire managers to estimate the likelihood of a worst-case scenario.
“Wildfire behavior depends on weather, fuel and topography, so when weather, fuel and topography line up, fires can spread more,” Olson explained.
In a morning update, Gesser said Monday’s priority is protecting infrastructure and high resource values in the area.
Crews also hope to maintain the fire boundaries at County Road 30 to the east, County Road 50 to the west and Keyser Creek to the south.
Monday’s weather is expected to stay hot and dry, like the last few days.
Fire managers have also issued a temporary flight restriction zone over the fire, which includes drones, so that air resources can be utilized without disruption.
Evacuation remains in place for CR 3 and CR 30, Keyser Creek, Darling Creek and Church Park. Areas identified for pre-evacuation include CR 50, CR 50S, CR 73, Aspen Canyon, Morgan Gulch, and Henderson Mill.
Road closures are still in effect on Forest Service Road 133, Forest Service Road 139, County Road 30, County Road 3 and County Road 50 at Young Life Camp.
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West Grand seniors Rene Dominguez, right, and Angel Dominguez pass the baton during one of the nighttime relays at the 2021 Joe Shields Invitational at WGHS.