LIVE UPDATES: Muddy Slide Fire in South Routt grows over 4K acres
What: Muddy Slide Fire
When: Currently active; ignited Sunday, June 20
Where: Wildfire burning east of the town of Yampa in South Routt County. Estimated at 4,056 acres as of 8 a.m. June 24.
More: Mandatory evacuation in place for residents on Routt County Road 16 between mile markers 12 and 21.
Cause: Unknown at this point
1:57 p.m. The U.S. Forest Service has extended the closures in the Medicine-Bow Routt National Forest, effective immediately. The purpose of the order is to prevent anyone from interfering with firefighters while they work in addition to keeping people safe.
Closed roads and trails include: west of National Forest Service Road (NFSR) 100 from NFSR 250 to National Forest Service Trail 1106, NFSR 102, NFSR 226, NFSR 227, NFSR 249, west of NFSR 250, NFSR 263, NFSR 264, NFSR 268, NFSR 268.1J, NFSR 270 (Routt County Road 16), NFSR 270.1D, NFSR 272, NFSR 275, NFSR 280, NFSR 282, NFSR 285, 1100 Rock Creek Mountain Bike Trail, 1106 Silver Creek Trail, 1173 Teepee Creek Trail, 1174 Morrison-Divide Trail, Lagunita Lake Parking Area and Lynx Pass Campground.
The #MuddySlideFire area closure has been expanded on National Forest System Lands. This order is in effect immediately, and its purpose is to provide for public safety and prevent interference with firefighting operations. https://t.co/U9SPTZO2Ue pic.twitter.com/FxO6udxUfM— Medicine Bow-Routt NFs & Thunder Basin NG (@FS_MBRTB) June 24, 2021
1:52 p.m. Skies are darkening in the Yampa Valley as scatted thunderstorms are expected to roll through the area Thursday afternoon. Temperatures are expected to be lower and the humidity higher over the next few days.
Thursday was the first day this week where Routt County was not under a Red Flag warning.
Cass Cairns, public affairs specialist with the Bureau of Land Management, said people should not expect rain Thursday to “put out the fire,” as it would really only have an effect on what firefighters call the “fine jewels,” like grasses and small thin limbs that will be able to absorb some of the moisture.
“If we only get an 1/8-inch or a 1/4-inch, it won’t make any difference at all, because after this weekend it is going to warm right back up,” Carins said. “Any moisture that goes into that ground is going to be gone by the first day of hot weather.”
The main fuel source of the fire right now is fir, spruce and lodgepole pine, and Cairns said that these would still burn even if it was raining.
1:30 p.m. Two teams of hotshots, which work on the hottest part of the fire, are directly engaging the fire Thursday near Muddy Slide Trail to create an anchor point on the fire.
“An anchor is a point to start with where you have got it set, you’ve got it controlled, you’ve got a good line on it and then you work from there,” Cairns said.
On the north side of the fire, engine crews are working on structure protection where the fire has already burned, ensuring that there are no hotspots that could flare up, Cairns said.
“They are securing those residences that are there, making sure that nothing flairs up,” Cairns said. “Once that is all secured, then they can start considering lifting the evacuations.”
To lift an evacuation order, the Routt County Sheriff’s Office would need to be sure that those areas are no longer in any danger from the fire. When opened the area would likely only be open to residents, law enforcement and firefighters, but there is no timetable for reopening at this time.
1:07 p.m. The Routt County Sheriff’s Office is currently assessing property damage from the Muddy Slide Fire. Residents have reported to Steamboat Pilot & Today that there have been buildings and other structures lost to the fire — including at least seven mobile homes and one cabin — though that has not yet been confirmed.
Cairns said information about what properties have been affected would be released by the sheriff’s office after landowners were notified, if there was any damage. Cairns stressed there is no official word about property loss at this time.
“We don’t say anything, including the sheriff’s department, until the property owners — if there is any damage or loss — until those property owners are notified,” Cairns said.
12:15 p.m. On the south side of the fire, firefighters are removing fuels and applying retardant along a powerline easement, to use that area as a fire line. On the north side, along Routt County Road 16, a structure group is developing a detailed plan to protect structures and implementing point protection. On the northwest corner of the fire, hotshot crews are building fire lines directly along the edge of the fire to create an anchor point. This will be used to prevent the fire from moving further north.
All ground resources are being supported by water and retardant drops from five helicopters. Fire managers are scouting for additional opportunities to safely engage the fire where there is the highest probability for success.
On Thursday, the fire area is forecast to receive afternoon showers, thunderstorms and increased moisture, reducing fire behavior in the short-term, giving firefighters an opportunity to safely engage the fire.
10:35 a.m. While it’s clearly appreciated, crews fighting the Muddy Slide Fire cannot accept and do not require food or other items from the community. That’s the role of the Blue Team, which brings in the necessary food, personal items and equipment needed for that day. If people are interested in contributing, they are asked to make donations to local fire departments or fire-related charities.
9:49 a.m. The morning meeting at the Muddy Slide Fire.
8:15 a.m. The Rocky Mountain Blue Type 2 incident management team assumed command of the fire at 6 a.m. Thursday. Crews will continue to work along the active fire perimeter with support from aerial resources.
The National Weather Service is calling for a 70% chance of rain and thunderstorms over the fire area today.
The fire is now 4,056 acres and was somewhat less active Wednesday, showing little growth around its perimeter.
8:05 a.m. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment has issued another air quality health advisory to include all of Routt County due to the wildfire. The advisory remains in effect until 9 a.m. Friday.
Moderate to heavy smoke from the Muddy Slide Fire, as well as the Sylvan wildfire in Eagle County and several other Colorado and out-of-state wildfires, is expected Wednesday through Thursday morning. Heaviest smoke impacts will likely occur during the overnight and early morning hours in valley locations and in areas in close vicinity to the local wildfires, according to the health department.
Those sensitive to smoke, especially if they have heart disease, respiratory illnesses, are very young or elderly, may want to stay indoors. Outdoor activity should be limited when moderate to heavy smoke is present.
8 a.m. Thursday: The Muddy Slide Fire Evacuation Center will now be located at Soroco Middle School, adjacent to the high school, and will open at 10 a.m.
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