Small wildland fire flares up near Red Cliff; Homestake fire is Vail Valley’s latest blaze
RED CLIFF — The U.S. Forest Service is getting a jump on a small wildland fire that flared up Wednesday, Sept. 12.
By late afternoon Wednesday, the Homestake fire was burning just more than 1 acre in a mountainous area near Red Cliff and the nearby wilderness, said Rick Truex, acting district ranger for the Holy Cross Ranger District of the White River National Forest.
Truex and other Forest Service officials ordered an agency helicopter out of Rifle to douse the fire from the air.
The Forest Service will continue running the helicopter Wednesday night and will decide Thursday morning whether ground crews will be necessary, Truex said.
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The fire and smoke is visible from the Red Cliff bridge, and calls from the public began rolling in mid-afternoon Wednesday, dispatchers said. Dispatchers are asking that members of the public stop calling about the fire.
There is little or no road access to the area, although because of its proximity to Camp Hale, there is the potential for “unexploded ordnance,” or old explosives that did not detonate when they were deployed and still pose a risk of detonation, said Tracy LeClair, with the Eagle River Fire Protection District.
The cause of the blaze remains unknown and under investigation, Truex said.
Latest in the late fire season
The Homestake fire is this summer’s latest Vail Valley wildland fire.
The Booco fire scorched more than 400 acres near Wolcott. A second fire near Wolcott burned several dozen acres.
The Lake Christine fire near El Jebel in the Roaring Fork Valley was the most devastating fire in the region for years. It has burned 12,588 acres and is 90 percent contained, the Forest Service said. Firefighters and other support personnel are still assigned to the fire, and it continues to burn.
Both the Lake Christine fire and the Booco fire started at gun ranges earlier this summer, when conditions were tinder dry around the region. The entire region was under severe fire restrictions all summer. The last of those restrictions were lifted on Friday, Sept. 7.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A leading critic of the Basalt shooting range contends Colorado Parks and Wildlife hasn’t done enough to make the public facility “fire safe.” CPW officials counter they have bolstered fire safety since the 2018 Lake Christine Fire and continue to eye improvements.