Morrisania Fire containment underway amid weather challenges

An airtanker assists in putting out the Morrisania Fire, which sparked Saturday due to what officials believe to be weather related.
Grand Valley Fire Protection/Courtesy

Aided by rain and overcast skies, firefighters are battling the elements to contain the Morrisania Fire that ignited on Saturday, marking a tumultuous start to October for the residents of Parachute. A combination of swift response and inclement weather has kept the blaze at bay, yet the wet conditions are double-edged, offering both aid and obstacle.

“We went into pre-evacuations On Sunday, which means residents could go back to their homes knowing that if the fire got bigger, we would have to evacuate them again,” Grand Valley Fire Deputy Fire Chief Andrew Duprey said. “As of now all the evacuation orders have been lifted.” 

The fire’s behavior has been unpredictable, complicating the efforts of the 12 agencies and over 100 personnel originally deployed. The fire’s erratic movements are attributed to unusual wind patterns and the topography of the area.

“That was the difficult thing with this fire — it’s been very unpredictable because of the winds that we have been facing throughout the weekend,” Duprey said.

Monday’s rain, while welcomed, is not without its challenges. The terrain, rendered unstable by the downpour, poses risks to the crews working to cut containment lines around the fire’s perimeter.

“It’s really helping us as what we’re trying to do now is we’re trying to complete the line, even with the weather, to completely have a line around the fire,” Duprey said. “And they’re not putting crews in because right now where they’re working is on the edge of I wouldn’t say cliffs, but on the edge and valleys and it’s kind of unsafe with flooding and everything.”

Though hampered by the conditions, containment efforts continue. The teams, reduced to around 45 personnel, are undeterred, working meticulously to secure the area and prevent the fire’s spread.

“They’re actually on the edges of the fire and basically trying to tie in the right flank and the left flank. So that there’s a complete safety area around the fire,” Duprey said.

The origin of the Morrisania Fire is still under investigation, though early indications point towards natural causes.

“It’s undetermined. They’re looking at a storm in the area that did have a lot of lightning and falls,” Duprey said. “But we believe the main factor is due to the lightning in recent days.”

The Deputy Fire Chief expressed optimism as the collective efforts of multiple agencies have kept the fire’s acreage to approximately 100, a manageable size that has allowed for strategic containment.

“It’s been amazing,” Duprey said. “We’re hoping to release a lot of agencies this afternoon to be able to go work on other fires.”

As residents of Parachute and neighboring communities keep an eye on the skies and the tireless work of the firefighters, the collective hope is for the weather to relent, granting the crews the opportunity to solidify the containment lines and extinguish the Morrisania Fire.

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