Wildfire near Wolcott grows to 100 acres, Highway 131 reopens
UPDATE (5:41 p.m.): Quick action from local fire crews on the ground and air support from Grand Junction have slowed a wildfire that broke out at 4 Eagle Ranch near Wolcott early Friday afternoon.
Highway 131 is now open from Highway 6 to Trough Road. Named the Alkali Creek Fire, the blaze is now reported at 100 acres, with 0% containment.
Officials are urging drivers to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles that may remain in the area. 4 Eagle Ranch evacuations remain in place, while pre-evacuation orders have been lifted for the Horse Mountain subdivision. Bureau of Land Management lands have been reduced to pre-evacuation status.
“The way that the fire is moving, we don’t anticipate that it will impact any structures,” said Abby Dallmann, Eagle County’s acting emergency manager on the fire. “We’ve had a few individuals at 4 Eagle Ranch and some surrounding residents that we’ve asked to leave for the event.”
Dallmann said officials don’t expect to issue any more evacuation orders Friday night. The fire remains under investigation, though it certainly wasn’t caused by a lightning strike, sparking under a clear blue sky.
The fire prompted a pre-evacuation notice for the Horse Mountain subdivision north and just west of Wolcott. Residents in the area should be prepared to leave immediately if told to do so. Residents who feel unsafe should leave. Don’t wait for instructions.
A red flag warning has also been issued from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.
Crews are evacuating hunters and campers from Muddy Pass Road and all Bureau of Land Management lands are being evacuated up to the National Forest Service land.
The fire is burning in pinon, sage and juniper, and the wind is causing erratic fire behavior.
A call went out about 1 p.m. for air support. A helicopter was on scene as of 1:15 p.m. Two single-engine air tankers and a large air tanker also assisted.
“Just having some of those resources right off the bat to tamp things down helped,” Dallmann said. “It was moving north and east the majority of the time … Those structures out at the landfill, those adjacent properties, it didn’t make any turns out there.”
Responding agencies include the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, the Gypsum Fire Protection District, the Rock Creek Fire Department, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado State Patrol and the U.S Forest Service.
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