Pre-evac warnings issued in Eagle, Pitkin counties as wind drives Sylvan Fire in multiple directions

Six wildfires are burning in Colorado
Smoke laying low at Sylvan Fire on Thursday
Posted at 11:27 PM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 01:28:38-04

EAGLE, Colo. — Wind is driving smoke from six wildfires into the far corners of Colorado. At certain times of the day, you can smell it in Denver.

The Western Slope is getting it the worst, as much of that part of Colorado is experiencing exceptional drought.

The effects of the drought are on full display in Eagle County, where smoke has settled into the valleys near Sylvan Lake State Park.

Smoke laying low at Sylvan Fire on Thursday

Rocky Mountain Type I Fire Management Team spokeswoman Tracy LeClair said the Sylvan Fire, which began last weekend and has consumed 3,752 acres, was apparently triggered by lightning.

"There were several fires in the area, that all started about the same time after a storm cell moved through," she said.

LeClair said nearly 200 firefighters are working on the ground and in the air trying to contain the blaze, which is burning about 16 miles south of Eagle.

"Winds have been the driving factor in most of this," she said. "The fire behavior that we've seen, the fire direction that it's moved, has been less terrain-driven and more wind-driven."

"I'm very concerned because it can change very rapidly," said area resident Cindy Scullin, who is among those who have been told to prepare in case of an emergency.

"I haven't quite done a to-go bag yet," she said, "but I know exactly what I'm taking and where it is. I think I don't want to do it yet because it makes it too real."

Thursday brought overcast skies, some lightning, thunder, a little wind and a bit of rain. LeClair said firefighters want more rain and less wind.

She said the erratic fire forced the closure of the Sylvan Lake State Park campgrounds and the evacuation of nearby unincorporated Fulford.

Pre-evacuation orders have been given to residents on both the Pitkin and Eagle County sides of the fire.

"Just to let them know, be ready, be aware, gather those important papers, your pets and your prescriptions. All those things that are irreplaceable, and make sure you're ready to go at a moment's notice," she said.

LeClair said they're concerned that this could be another summer like last year.

"We are anywhere from extreme to exceptional drought, and unless we get some decent rain, the forecast for the coming summer is, unfortunately, more of the same," she said.