Fire in Oak Meadows moving toward mop-up operations
A wildfire that burned about 44 acres, threatened homes and prompted evacuations in the Oak Meadows subdivision south of Glenwood Springs late Friday settled down that night and was absent any flare-ups on Saturday.“The fire is currently considered 60 percent contained,” Garfield County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Walt Stowe said in a late Saturday press release. Operations were to continue Sunday with four ground crews, including two hot shot crews and two Type 2 crews. “The projected weather forecast calls for cooler weather,” he said. “The current plan is to release the air support and continue operations of securing and widening the perimeter containment.”
Extra firefighting resources were on standby Saturday as a Type 3 Incident Command team from Southern Idaho took over operations.“The initial de-mobilization has already begun,” Stowe continued in the release. “It is anticipated that additional resources will be released [Sunday] with the final mop up being completed on Monday.”
Fire fighters from multiple agencies assisted Glenwood Springs Fire when the blaze first broke out about 4:30 or 5 p.m. Friday and quickly spread to the south of houses on Aspen Way in the southern (upper) part of Oak Meadows. The area is located off of Four Mile Road on the way to Sunlight Mountain Resort.
“No structures have been lost … however the fire advanced to within a few hundred yards of some cabins and buildings in the area,” Stowe said earlier in the day Saturday.
“The goals for today’s crews are to protect structures, minimize spread of the fire, and protect the safety of the residents,” he said.
A red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service for the Glenwood Springs area and Garfield County brought high temperatures and low humidity to the area, but did not produce the high winds fire managers were concerned about.
“We had really good success last night getting a wet line around the fire area,” Glenwood Springs Fire Chief Gary Tillotson said Saturday as the lower-level Type 3 incident command team was mobilizing and giving area fire fighters a break.
“This incident is not that complex, but it could become that way depending on the conditions” Tillotson warned of the uncertain weather conditions. “It’s been calm all morning, but the winds are starting to pick up so we are watching that,”
Fire officials had not released a cause of the fire as of Saturday evening, but investigators were looking into whether an electrical transformer may have started the fire.
At its onset, a Heyl Construction crew that was working on a water line nearby jumped on the fire quickly, digging a trench to keep the flames from spreading into nearby homes.
The fire prompted some initial evacuations in the area, but residents were allowed back home about 10 p.m. Friday.
No evacuations were necessary on Saturday, though power was shut off for the south Oak Meadows area during the day to allow for any necessary air water drops from a helicopter.
Local resources continued to be used, including the Garfield County Road and Bridge and a crew from Juniper Valley Firefighters.
Extra ground crews and equipment were brought in to relieve and free up local resources that came from Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Basalt, Aspen and Colorado River Fire Rescue, Stowe said.
“These crews will be used, as necessary, with the ultimate goal of containment and mop up of hot spots within the fire area,” Stowe said in the Saturday release. “Residents should plan on operations continuing for three days or more, depending on weather conditions and availability of resources.”
A base camp was set up at the Sopris Elementary School, where fire fighters were to be camping overnight Saturday and Sunday.
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A report released this month by the Center for Colorado River Studies says that in order to sustainably manage the river in the face of climate change, officials need alternative management paradigms and a different way of thinking compared with the status quo. Estimates about how much water the Upper Colorado River Basin states will use in the future are a problem that needs rethinking, according to the white paper.