Williams Fork Fire 10,813 acres, 3% contained after another day of favorable conditions

Posted at 12:44 PM, Aug 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 13:34:30-04

UPDATE (Monday, Aug. 24, 11:30 a.m.): Officials said firefighters continue to make “good progress” on the Williams Fork Fire burning southwest of Fraser, which was 11,048 acres and 3% contained Monday morning.

Crews built more lines on the western and southwestern edges of the fire and plan to back burn early this week if weather conditions allow to secure another containment area, officials said.

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GRAND COUNTY, Colo. – Favorable weather conditions continued to help firefighters on the Williams Fork Fire burning southwest of Fraser, which saw only minimal growth Saturday, from 10,437 acres to 10,813 acres by Sunday morning.

Conditions have continued to help limit the spread of the fire, though officials still warned residents that it will likely keep burning for a while, due to the high amounts of dead and downed timber and beetle-killed trees in the area, along with dry conditions from Colorado's ongoing drought.

The fire grew less than 200 acres on Friday, and the weather allowed firefighters to make more progress creating containment lines on the western, northern and southwestern edges of the fire with hand crews and bulldozers.

This map shows the boundaries of the Williams Fork Fire as of Saturday morning, Aug. 22, 2020.

Dry weather with warm temperatures and low relative humidity is expected through the weekend, with winds out of the north and northwest. More resources and firefighters are arriving this weekend.

There are currently 264 personnel working the fire.

Smoke settled into Parshall and Kremmling Saturday morning, making conditions unhealthy for sensitive groups. Officials expect some of the smoke to lift in the afternoon.

There is a Facebook Live community update scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday on the Williams Fork Fire Facebook page.

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. The fire was caused by humans.

The Arapaho National Forest said Saturday afternoon that the fire investigation team was asking the public for help in getting information about the start of the fire, which officials have said was caused by humans.

Officials are asking anyone who was in the Williams Fork area the night of Aug. 13 or morning of Aug. 14 and has photos of the area where the fire started to email them to Anyone else with information can call 307-745-2392, option 5, and leave a name and number so law enforcement can call back.

To see an evacuation map, click here. Residents in the area can sign up for evacuation notices through the Grand County Code RED program. There are no current evacuation order for people living in the Fraser Valley, officials said Saturday morning.

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.

Ed LeBlanc, the Arapaho National Forest Incident Commander, said during a community meeting Aug. 15 that the fire was burning in heavy dead and downed lodgepole pine and spruce fir trees – most killed by beetles.

The Williams Fork Fire is one of four major fires currently burning in Colorado. Click here for more Denver7 coverage of the wildfires.