Basalt fire day 4: 5,200 acres, 0% contained; Hickenlooper, Gardner, Tipton visit

Staff reports

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m. – On a tour of the wildfires in Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton stopped at the Lake Christine Fire command center Friday to get an update on the fire that’s charred more than 5,200 acres and displaced nearly 2,000 people.

Hickenlooper, Gardner and Tipton were joined by a number of state and local elected officials to get an update on the fire, which was started Tuesday evening by two people allegedly shooting tracer rounds at the Basalt State Wildlife Area.

When Hickenlooper was asked how much financial support the federal government was committing, he said “not enough” while gesturing at the federal officials.

UPDATE: 10 a.m. –  The voluntary evacuation of the Garfield County portions of Missouri Heights  has been lifted, but a mandatory evacuation for the Eagle County portions is still in full effect.

Going into Day 4, the fire has grown to over 5,200 acres and is zero percent contained.

The forecast for today is similar to Thursday — temperatures in the 80s and 20 percent humidity. There is a threat of thunderstorms and showers after 2 p.m., which can be a cause of concern if lightning ignites below fire crews.

According to a Garfield County Sheriff’s Office news release, the combined efforts of local first responders and the efforts of the Type 2 Incident Command Team called in by Eagle County have reduced the immediate danger east of the fire area.

Today’s goal is to improve the line leading to Spring Park Reservoir and get a better handle on improving the area near the Tree Farm and the El Jebel Mobile Home Park. Crews also will look around the north edge of the fire to see if there are “areas of opportunity,” an official said at the briefing.

A second Hot Shot crew is coming in today, as are more helicopters. Air attacks were to begin at 9 a.m. A total of five helicopters will be on the fire today, with aircraft coming in when needed.

Meanwhile, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office informed residents of evacuated neighborhoods that they need to register for a “re-entry tag” to prepare for when they can return. They need to register at the Basalt High School shelter, 600 Southside Drive starting at 10:30 a.m. today. People should bring an ID if they have one available.

Area road closures will move to the Garfield/Eagle county line at Heather and Fender Lane. The Garfield County side will be re-opened to residents effective immediately.

“Please be prepared to verify your residence destination if asked,” the sheriff’s office advises. “Persons not living in the area are asked to refrain from traveling in or out of the area unless absolutely necessary. This is important to allow local and emergency traffic adequate entry and egress.”

Residents are also advised to make sure reverse 911 notification access is current with dispatch. Call 970-625-8095 for further information.

“Be alert to your surroundings, as always, and aware of changing weather conditions,” the sheriff also advises. “Understand that the air quality in this area will be significantly compromised at times due to the proximity of the fire.”

BASALT, Colo. — Federal resources are pouring into the mid-Roaring Fork Valley to take command of the battle to corral the Lake Christine Fire after local firefighters saved hundreds of homes during a “chaotic” period.

“Today was a good day. We got some resources in,” said Keith Brink, operations section chief for the Northern Rockies Incident Command team, which took control of the firefighting effort Thursday.

Those resources include one hotshot team already on the fire lines and another arriving Friday. Brink called them “the elite of the elite.”

All told, there will be between 300 and 400 federal and local firefighters battling the blaze by the weekend, according to incident commander Mike Almus.

Officials warned a crowd of more than 200 people at a community meeting at Basalt High School on Thursday evening that the firefighting effort will continue for weeks.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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