MONTROSE – Firefighters on the East Fork Fire near Silver Jack Reservoir east of Montrose have temporarily changed their approach to fighting the fire. Attempts to confine the fire have been hindered by hazardous terrain, very dry fuels and numerous spot fires, creating dangerous conditions for firefighters. As a result, the strategy has been changed from one of confinement to structure protection of scattered cabins in the area.
The East Fork Fire was started by lightning on Saturday, June 15, approximately 13 miles northeast of Ridgway and approximately three miles southeast of Silver Jack Reservoir. The fire currently covers 400 acres burning primarily in spruce/fir.
A Type 2 Incident Management Team is on order to assume command of the East Fork Fire. The transition between the local Type 3 team and the Type 2 team is scheduled for Monday morning. A Type 2 team typically comes onto a fire when it proves more complex than the local team has the resources to handle.
On Monday, June 24, Stage One fire restrictions go into effect on the Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests. The public is urged to be extra cautious with all use of fire. All road and trail closures in the fire area remain in effect.
Stage One restrictions prohibit the following:
• Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, barbecue, grill or stove fire. Except: Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed recreation sites and the use of portable stoves, lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, pressurized liquid fuel or a fully enclosed (sheepherder type) stove with a quarter-inch spark arrester type screen is permitted.
• Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site.
• Operating a chainsaw without a USDA or SAE approved spark arrester properly installed and in effective working order, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A kept with the operator, and one round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter and in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of at least 2A.
• Using an explosive.
For updated fire information call the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests Fire Information line at 970/874.6602, or visit the GMUG Forest website (www.fs.usda.gov/gmug).
PUBLISHED JUNE 21 AT 11:08 A.M.
East Fork Fire Burning Near Silver Jack Reservoir
MONTROSE – Interagency resources from the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are monitoring the East Fork Fire, located approximately 13 miles east-northeast of Ridgway, and three to four miles east-southeast of Silver Jack Reservoir. The fire is burning on Uncompahgre National Forest lands.
A lightning strike on Saturday, June 15, started the fire, which is estimated at 15 acres and burning in steep and hazardous terrain through stands of spruce and fir trees. Due to the inaccessibility of the area and concerns for firefighter safety, it is being fought using a Confinement Strategy. Seven smokejumpers are currently on the fire with additional resources enroute. No structures are threatened at this time.
The Forest Service is urging the public to avoid the area affected by the fire. This includes the Owl Creek Pass, Big Cimarron, Little Cimarron and High Mesa Roads (Forest Service Roads 858, 864,864.A) as well as Silver Jack Reservoir. This area includes the following Forest Service Trails: Alpine Trail (FST 225), East Fork Trail (FST 228), Little Cimarron Trail (FST 229), Fall Creek Trail (FST 230,231), Big Park Trail (FST 234), Middle Fork Trail (FST 227) and Wetterhorn Basin Trail (FST 226).
A Red Flag Warning is in effect for the fire area due to gusty winds, low humidity and dry fuels. A Red Flag Warning means the potential exists for rapid fire spread.
Stage One fire restrictions will be implemented Monday, June 24, on the Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests.
Fire officials are asking the public to be vigilant with fire including campfires, open charcoal, wood fires, and ditch burning, fireworks, chainsaws, welding equipment and smoking.
For current fire information on the GMUG National Forest call the fire hotline 970/874-6602.