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Fire officials say Williams Fork Fire grew very little Tuesday and overnight

Williams Fork Fire_Aug. 15 2020
Posted at 8:17 AM, Aug 19, 2020

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. — The Williams Fork Fire in Grand County grew very little Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning, fire officials said.

The fire increased about one hundred acres overnight to 6,726 acres. It was estimated at 6,627 acres Tuesday evening. The fire only expanded a couple hundred acres total on Tuesday, according to the incident management team. The blaze spotted over Darling Creek on the fire's south edge for about half a mile.

Aside from this new movement, the Williams Fork Fire continued to burn within its perimeter.

The incident management team said the fire is 3% contained — along the northwest edge near County Road 30 — as of Wednesday morning.

The Great Basin Type 1 Incident Management Team 2 assumed command of the fire Tuesday at 8 p.m. This team will bring more resources and experience in fighting complex fires.

Wednesday's firefighting efforts will focus on protecting infrastructure and high-resource values. Fire managers are developing contingency plans with the goal of preventing the fire from reaching private lands, according to the incident management team.

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for the area due to thunderstorms (though little rain), gusty winds, high temperatures and overall dry conditions.

Fire officials have worked with the Grand County Sheriff's Office on an evacuation plan, if needed, for the towns of Fraser and Winter Park, though no evacuations have been ordered in any residential areas as of Wednesday at 8 a.m.

The U.S. Forest Service has closed a large area west of Winter Park and Fraser, including roads, trails and campgrounds.

All access to the Church Park is closed, including Forest Service Road 133, Forest Service Road 139, County Road 30, County Road 3 (with exemption for mill workers), and County Road 50 starting at Young Life Camp, according to county officials.

The Sugarloaf Campground and South Fork Campground were under mandatory evacuation orders when the fire was first reported and have been closed since. County Road 50, County Road 505, County Road 73, Aspen Canyon, Morgan Gulch, and Henderson Mil are under pre-evacuation notice.

To see an evacuation map, click here. Residents in the area can sign up for evacuation notices through the Grand County Code RED program.

The fire started burning Aug. 19 in the Byers Peak. Officials estimated that it would take up to two months for the fire to be fully contained due to the dry conditions expected to continue in the weeks ahead. Officials say the fire was caused by humans.

Ed LeBlanc, the Arapaho National Forest Incident Commander, said during a community meeting Saturday that the fire was burning in heavy dead and downed lodgepole pine and spruce fir trees – most killed by beetles.

Drones are not allowed to fly around the fire.