Wildfire near Wolcott grows to 100 acres, Highway 131 reopens | PostIndependent.com

Wildfire near Wolcott grows to 100 acres, Highway 131 reopens

A single-engine air tanker makes a fire retardant drop Friday on the Alkali Creek Fire north of Wolcott.
Vail Daily photo

Quick action from local fire crews on the ground and air support from Grand Junction slowed a wildfire that broke out at 4 Eagle Ranch near Wolcott early Friday afternoon.

Highway 131 was initially closed but was later reopened from Highway 6 to Trough Road.

Named the Alkali Creek Fire, the blaze was reported at 100 acres, with 0% containment Friday evening.

Officials are urging drivers to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles that may remain in the area. 4 Eagle Ranch evacuations remain in place, while pre-evacuation orders have been lifted for the Horse Mountain subdivision. Bureau of Land Management lands have been reduced to pre-evacuation status.

“The way that the fire is moving, we don’t anticipate that it will impact any structures,” said Abby Dallmann, Eagle County’s acting emergency manager on the fire. “We’ve had a few individuals at 4 Eagle Ranch and some surrounding residents that we’ve asked to leave for the event.”

Dallmann said officials did not anticipate any more evacuation orders Friday night. The fire remains under investigation, though it certainly wasn’t caused by a lightning strike. Friday was a near-bluebird day.

The fire prompted a pre-evacuation notice for the Horse Mountain subdivision north and just west of Wolcott.

A red flag warning has also been issued from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

Crews are evacuating hunters and campers from Muddy Pass Road and all Bureau of Land Management lands are being evacuated up to the National Forest Service land.

The fire is burning in pinon, sage and juniper, and the wind is causing erratic fire behavior.

A call went out about 1 p.m. for air support. A helicopter was on scene as of 1:15 p.m. Two single-engine air tankers and a large air tanker also assisted.

“Just having some of those resources right off the bat to tamp things down helped,” Dallmann said. “It was moving north and east the majority of the time … Those structures out at the landfill, those adjacent properties, it didn’t make any turns out there.”

Responding agencies included the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, the Gypsum Fire Protection District, the Rock Creek Fire Department, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado State Patrol and the U.S Forest Service.

Later Friday evening, a separate grass fire was reported in the median off I-70 at milemarker 149 near Eagle, forcing the closure of the lefthand lane in both directions.

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