Interlaken Fire near Twin Lakes grows to 585 acres; more resources requested to help with fire fight

Interlaken Fire 2024-06-13
Posted at 9:02 PM, Jun 13, 2024

LAKE COUNTY, Colo. — The Interlaken Wildfire burning near Twin Lakes is at 585 acres and 5% containment as of Friday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service’s latest assessment.

The U.S. Forest Service expects the ground crew to expand by Friday and has requested more resources. According a Friday morning update, crews were working to build fireline and protect historic structures, noting steep and difficult terrain.

Since the fire sparked on Tuesday afternoon, there's been a constant buzz above Brandon Oxendine's Buena Vista home.

"You can hear the helicopters actually flying over right now, heading over there," said Oxendine.

Twin Lakes, Colorado fire: Video shows smoke plume, helicopter response

Oxendine took several cell phone videos of the blaze, which investigators believe was started by an abandoned campfire.

Colorado's Division of Fire Prevention and Control said the Pike San Isabel National Forest, which is in command of the fire, ordered multiple aviation resources, including an Air Attack, a Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT), two Large Air Tankers (LATs), a Type 1 helicopter and a Type 2 helicopter.

The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office said pre-evacuation notices are in place for residents and visitors from Clear Creek Reservoir to the Chaffee County, Lake County line.

“This a pre-evacuation notification only, at this time. Please be ready to leave if it becomes necessary. We will also be sending an Emergency alert (Everbridge notification) to people in that area,” said the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office on social media.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office lifted a pre-evacuation order for Balltown while Lost Canyon and Cache Creek remain under a pre-evac notice.

"Be aware that several trail and road closures are in place at this time," said officials on social media, including the following areas:

  • Interlaken trailhead and parking area
  • Willis Gulch trail
  • Sheep Gulch trail
  • Colorado Trail segments in the Twin Lakes Area
  • Forest Service Road 399, and dispersed camping around the lake.

According to the Forest Service, camping is not allowed on the east side of Twin Lakes or near the Interlaken trailhead.

Abandoned campfire sparked wildfire burning near Twin Lakes, USFS determines


Abandoned campfire sparked wildfire burning near Twin Lakes, USFS determines

Sydney Isenberg
9:56 PM, Jun 12, 2024

But one firefighting machine you won't see on the south side of the Twin Lakes Reservoir is the state's Firehawk.

Colorado spent $24 million on the state-of-the-art helicopter in 2021, which is fully equipped to help with firefighting efforts. However, three years later, it has yet to fight a fire.

A spokesperson for Colorado's Division of Fire Prevention and Control told Denver7 closer available resources were dispatched for The Interlaken Fire, adding, "Training is the number one priority for this new asset, but is available for initial attack on a case-by-case basis."

Meanwhile, 150 miles east on a county level, Douglas County is blending aviation resources and ground crews to fight fires.

"In a moments notice, this helitack crew can be in the air, whether you're talking open space in rural Douglas County, US Forest Service property, or in a greenbelt in the middle of Highlands Ranch," said Douglas County Sheriff Darren Weekly.

Douglas County has committed $1.8 million to the county's 2024 wildland fire aerial firefighting contracts to ensure air support is available through the end of November.

"Douglas County is the only county in the state that has a dedicated Helitack aerial crew that fights fires hard, heavy and fast," said Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon.

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