Basalt Fire: Flames slowed overnight, power lines of concern
Crews and the weather were able to quiet the Lake Christine Fire overnight Tuesday near Basalt but officials are worried about power lines in the area and the fire knocking out power in the Roaring Fork Valley, according to an update Wednesday morning.
Basalt town manager Ryan Mahoney on Wednesday morning said the fire “kept moving all night (and) the mild winds helped it from spreading too much,” he said after being in contact with Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott.
“The worry at the moment is the wooden power lines, which if burned will knock out power from Aspen to Basalt and over the hill to Gypsum and Wolcott,” Mahoney said.
Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson said Wednesday morning that aircrews will start attacking the fire at 9 a.m. and will be as aggressive as they can before 11 a.m., which is when winds and the temperature start to pick up.
Thompson said the estimate is roughly 340 acres burned by Wednesday morning. It is zero percent contained and all evacuation orders remain in place for the Hillcrest, Silverado, Original, Pine Ridge and Sagewood neighborhoods, officials said.
There are fire crews around the Aspen Junction and the Original Road area to protect structures. The fire burned above those areas. “There is a wild land crew cutting fire line between the Wilds and gun range in case the winds shift back toward town,” Mahoney said.
Holy Cross Energy crews also are on the scene in case the powerlines are affected.
Mahoney and Thompson said the same aircraft crews from Tuesday will work the fire Wednesday, including the smaller slurry bomber.
Fire crews saw private drones flying in the area Tuesday night, and if that occurs Wednesday they will have to shutdown air operations.
The fire started Tuesday night around 6 p.m. when two people were shooting tracer rounds at the range on the Lake Christine State Wildlife Area. It grew to about 60 acres by 9 p.m. and more than 80 ground crews were on the scene into the evening.
Two people were cited for starting the fire at the range, according to Jessie Porter of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Department.
Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson said Tuesday night they preserved evidence at the range and the two people cited were firing “tracer rounds.” They were cooperative and talked with law enforcement officials, he said.
This is a developing story that will be updated.
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Despite nearly a month of intense investigation by two APD detectives, two investigators with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and help from an FBI agent in Glenwood Springs, the case is progressing slowly.