“This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint,” said Rio Blanco County Sheriff Anthony Mazzola of the efforts to suppress the Cabin Lake Fire along the South Fork drainage at a second public meeting Wednesday for concerned citizens held at the Buford School.
Overnight Tuesday a storm cell with 40-45mph wind gusts caused the fire to “take a run,” jumping containment lines for the third time since the fire started July 29, pushing the fire all the way to County Road 10 and causing up to 30 spot fires on the other side of the South Fork of the White River. Those spot fires were suppressed Wednesday, and are being watched.
At 6 a.m. Wednesday a Type 2 Incident Management Team from the southeastern U.S. —Team Gold— took command of the fire, bringing additional resources and leverage to order more. Team Gold has a separate structure protection group checking structures in the fire zone and working to protect them with sprinklers, fire retardant, and controlled burns. At this point, no structures have been reported as destroyed.
One hundred twenty-five thousand gallons of water were dropped on the fire Wednesday, along with 118 thousands gallons of fire retardant.
Team Gold’s fire behavior analyst Kelly Cagle said the three weather stations in the area have conditions at the 95th percentile of dryness, meaning conditions have only been drier during 5 percent of the last 20-plus years. Dry, windy weather has made the fire very difficult to suppress.
“Until we get some good rain, this will be in our backyard,” Cagle said. According to the incident command meteorologist, the forecast doesn’t show much promise for rain in the next five days.
Incident Commander Steve Parrish told the group gathered at the Buford Schoolhouse, “This is a full suppression fire.”
Blanco District Manager Curtis Keetch said, “We’ve had a fire line around it probably three times. Every time it moves on. We’re having to look at a bigger box to protect public safety,” he said.
That bigger box means a larger closure to public access on the White River National Forest in the interest of public safety.
“Every fire on this forest has exceeded the probability of growth,” said White River Forest Supervisor Lisa Stoeffler. Because of that, and because of the intensity of the fire, the closure to the public will extend to Ute Creek, Papoose Creek and West Marvine.
“We don’t have the ability to notify and extract people from that area if the fire moves,” Stoeffler said.
Asked whether mandatory evacuations could extend to County Road 17, Sheriff Mazzola said they have identified trigger points to the west, and if the fire moves to a certain point, pre-evacuation orders would become evacuation orders.
Fire size: 3,700 acres and 35% contained.
Location: 16 miles southeast of Meeker, Colo.
Start date July 29, 2018
Total personnel: 313
Restrictions and Closures
- The Buford New Castle Road remains closed at the intersection of County Road 10 and County Road 17 and south to the turnoff to the Meadow Lake Campground (Forest Service Road 601).
- County Road 10 is open to residents only between the intersection of County Road 10 and County Road 17.
- An emergency area closure remains in place on the Blanco Ranger District of the White River National Forest—https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/whiteriver/alerts-notices. All trailheads and campgrounds in the South Fork drainage are closed.
- A temporary flight restriction remains in effect http://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_8_7240.html.
Rio Blanco County Dispatch (970) 878-9600
Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s App and Facebook www.facebook.com/RioBlancoCountySheriff
Rio Blanco County alerts at http://www.co.rio-blanco.co.us/298/Rio-Blanco-Reverse-911