(Updated) Day 2: ‘Resume your normal life,’ officials tell Golf Course Fire evacuees as they are allowed to return home; shelter being shut down
Update 6 p.m. Friday:
“Return to your normal life,” was the well-received sentiment offered by EMS Chief Ray Jennings this evening during a community briefing on the Golf Course Fire.
A crowd of evacuees and other concerned residents applauded as Jennings announced County Road 49 would be reopened this evening, the upper road near the Grand Lake Cemetery that heads into Columbine Lake, allowing the remaining evacuees to return to their homes.
The shelter inside the Grand Lake Center operated by the Red Cross will be shut down at 8 p.m.
But Jennings advised residents that they still need to use caution.
“You still have to pay a lot of attention to the surroundings,” Jennings said. “And stay off of Golf Course Road.”
While County Road 49 will be reopened, Deer Drive will be closed and barricaded, along with County Roads 471 and 48.
“Let the firefighters work,” Lt. Dan Mayer of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office told to crowd. He said that people have been trying to walk along Golf Course Road and ride ATVs in the area.
While 20 hot spots were located in the area of the fire, there has been no fire growth today, according to Grand Lake Fire Chief Mike Long.
A video taken earlier Friday from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office thermal-capable drone which shows some of the firefighters in the brush working around a hot spot. The use of this drone helped pinpoint areas that might not have been seen from the ground:
Update 12:30 p.m. Friday: The Golf Course Fire has reached 60 percent containment as of Friday afternoon, according to EMS Chief Ray Jennings.
Crews are currently flying a drone equipped with infrared to locate any potential hotspots in the area. Hotspots are currently being found north of County Road 48, some about 30 to 40 feet away from homes in the Columbine Lake area. Once located, firefighters are attempting to eradicate them as quickly as possible, according to Jennings.
Wind speeds have since picked up and are making efforts to completely contain the fire more difficult. There is currently no estimated timeline as to when the fire will reach 100 percent containment, but Jennings said the expectation is that more will be contained into the late afternoon and evening Friday.
County Road 491 is open completely while County Roads 48 and 49 remain closed with road blocks for the public’s safety. U.S. Highway 34 has no closures at this time.
“We want to make sure it’s absolutely safe before we open up Columbine,” Jennings said.
Residents who were evacuated from along County Road 491 and to the north have been permitted to return home, but asked to keep open their lines of communication in case new evacuations are ordered. The evacuation of homes in the area of County Road 48 and its connecting roads are still in place.
Jennings said the cause of the fire is still under investigation. The fire was first reported at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Grand Lake Golf Course. The fire started near the trailhead parking lot to the hiking trail system. The golf course, which did not suffer any damage, is closed until further notice.
Officials will hold another community briefing at 6 p.m. Friday at the Grand Lake Center.
Grand Lake Town Manager Jim White announced that Grand Lake town commissioners will hold an emergency meeting at 1:30 p.m. Saturday to discuss if fire restrictions need to be increased for the area and to decide if the popular Grand Lake fireworks on the Fourth of July will continue.
“We love our fireworks — we have one of the safest places to have the fireworks,” White said, but admitted that proceeding with the fireworks could result in “an incongruent message that we’d be sending out.”
The Fraser & Winter Park Chamber of Commerce told Sky-Hi News earlier today that they have decided to cancel their Fourth of July fireworks display.
Businesses around the county, including Squeaky B’s in Grand Lake, City Market in Granby and many more, have donated items such as food and drinks to help those affected by the Golf Course Fire.
GOLF COURSE FIRE UPDATE 6/29 12:49 PM
Fire is at 60% Containment with zero structures damaged. CR 491 open/ CR 48 & 49 remain closed. pic.twitter.com/I3qZPKlhoo
— Grand Lake FIre (@GrandLakeFire) June 29, 2018
Fire mitigation efforts continued early Friday morning as the Golf Course Fire northwest of Grand Lake kept burning overnight.
Evacuees of the fire were not permitted to return to their homes last night and a timeline for that is still uncertain, according to EMS Chief Ray Jennings. As he explained, the fire is still considered active.
Still at around 20 acres as of 9 a.m. Friday, according to Jennings, multiple crews from Grand County and the surrounding areas are working to contain the fire, including planes, helicopters dropping water and ground crews.
No homes or other structures have been damaged by the fire, including the Grand Lake Golf Course, which is close to the front line of the fire.
Electricity has also been turned back on for most of the impacted area.
The Red Cross along with Grand County Office of Emergency Management established an emergency shelter in the Grand Lake Center at 301 Marina Dr. in Grand Lake. Only about two dozen people stayed at the center overnight, unable to return to their homes, according to emergency management. Others chose to camp outside the facility.
County Road 48 remains closed to incoming traffic and all residents are to be cautious when driving along Highway 34 to and from Grand Lake. The town of Grand Lake is currently unaffected and businesses are open as normal.
Another community briefing by officials is scheduled for noon at the Grand Lake Center.
This story will be updated throughout the day as more information is released.
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