Trail Gulch fire north of Gypsum burns 27 acres |

Trail Gulch fire north of Gypsum burns 27 acres

Flames from the Trail Gulch Fire were visible throughout Gypsum and in Eagle Sunday night.
Special to the Daily

GYPSUM — Its been the talk of the valley for weeks, but downvalley residents got a firsthand experience with just how tinder dry it is in the great outdoors that surrounds their communities.

On Sunday, July 22, Gypsum residents had a clear view of the lightning-sparked Trail Gulch Fire. After a loud thunder boom just after 7 p.m., several residents spotted a column of smoke rising from a hill just north of town. By 8 p.m., a full-fledged wildfire was burning.

As of Monday afternoon, the fire had burned 27 acres and was 50 percent contained.

“Today we were able to do a real assessment of the size of the fire,” Gypsum Fire Department Chief Justin Kirkland said. “Crews will still be on it Tuesday, but we hope we won’t need as many personnel.”

There were 35 firefighters on the scene of the Trail Gulch Fire on Monday. A helicopter crew from Rifle dumped water on the fire scene throughout the day.

Kirkland said the management plan is to completely extinguish the Trail Gulch Fire.

“With this one, we do not want it to go anywhere. It’s manageable in size, so we can get a good handle on it,” he said.

The Trail Gulch fire is located on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property. Federal officials are heading up management of the fire response, with a large contingent of local fire department teams on site.

Interstate 70 fire

Sunday’s blaze was the second outdoor fire in three days for the Gypsum Fire Department.

On Friday, July 20, fire crews were called to a median grass fire near Dotsero. The fire closed the highway to traffic in both directions for more than two hours.

“We suspect it was something off a vehicle traveling along the interstate that sparked the fire,” Kirkland said. “There was actually six separate fires that all grew together.”

The fire stretched approximately a mile, but it was largely contained to the median. One side fire on the north side of Interstate 70 burned approximately one-tenth of an acre. All told, Kirkland estimated that fire burned around 1 1/2 acres.

“It doesn’t take much of anything to start a wildfire right now, and that’s why we are in Stage 2 fire restrictions,” Kirkland said.

Gypsum hospitality

As crews made their way down the hillside Monday evening, they received a delectable thank you from the town of Gypsum. Town government arranged for firefighters to enjoy dinner at the Creekside Grill on Monday, July 23.

“We want to show them how much our community appreciates what they did for Gypsum,” Mayor Steve Carver said. “It’s the least we can do for them.”

Firefighters camped out at the Gypsum Fire Station on Monday before heading back up to the Trail Gulch fire scene Tuesday morning.

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