Lake Christine Fire grows nearly 800 acres, type 2 incident management team returning |

Lake Christine Fire grows nearly 800 acres, type 2 incident management team returning

A tanker drops retardant on the northwest edge of the Lake Christine Fire near Spring Park Reservoir Thursday morning. There's been a bump in activity the last two days after the fire grew several hundred acres.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

Federal officials are changing direction on the Lake Christine Fire and bringing back a type 2 incident management team to Basalt and El Jebel on Friday morning, it was announced Thursday.

Incident management was downgraded to a type 3 team Monday because the fire was dying down and required fewer resources and less expertise.

But the fire grew by 773 acres Wednesday during another hot, dry day. It topped 7,700 acres as of 10 p.m. Wednesday. Fire officials said at a media briefing Thursday it could grow significantly again by Friday morning because it is now burning into conifer trees rather than pinion, juniper and oak.

“In the last 24 hours, we’ve seen more fire activity and with more fire activity comes more complexity,” White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said.

He said he reviewed the firefighting needs with Forest Service officials Wednesday and decided to order a type 2 team. The transfer will occur Friday at 6 a.m.

Fitzwilliams said the reversal doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision to downgrade to a type 3 team on Monday. The fire behavior, weather conditions and reduced threat to structures dictated a downgrade, he said.

“I would do the same thing over again,” he said.

The growth of the fire Wednesday rattled the nerves of numerous Roaring Fork Valley residents, especially residents of Basalt and Missouri Heights. The growing fire sent a huge mushroom cloud into the atmosphere Wednesday afternoon and fueled concerns throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and as far away as Gypsum that the fire was again out of control.

There was little communication with the public Wednesday other than alerts from Pitkin and Eagle counties stating the obvious — that the fire was growing and to expect to see smoke. No structures were threatened, the alerts said, so people were asked not to call 911.

Fire officials said Thursday there is no threat to structures, but they acknowledged the need to do a better job communicating with the public.

“We realize, we know we’re going to have to get more information out,” Fitzwilliams said. Agencies involved in the firefighting effort will likely go back to holding more community information meetings, he said.

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