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'Looks can be deceiving': Sheriff's office warns that despite rain, Ptarmigan Fire remains active

Ptarmigan Fire Sept 29 2021
Posted at 10:58 AM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 10:16:54-04

SILVERTHORNE, Colo. — The Ptarmigan Fire didn't grow overnight, but remains active despite rain over the Silverthorne area, fire officials said Wednesday morning.

"Looks can be deceiving," the Summit County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday morning. "Although cold, wet weather has arrived and the fire doesn’t look the same as it did in previous days, it is still an active fire with little containment at this time."

The rain Tuesday also kept aerial firefighting equipment grounded. Dillon District Ranger Adam Bianchi said this is a trade-off and between the rain and aerial attacks, he wouldn't consider one better than the other. Crews are looking for ways to utilize both in certain windows, he said. For example, in breaks from the rain, the helicopters will work over the blaze.

The fire, which sparked Monday afternoon, is estimated at 85 acres with 0% containment, fire officials said Wednesday morning. The cause is under investigation.

In an 11 a.m. update, Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said he woke up and looked in the direction of Ptarmigan Peak and couldn't see the fire, but this doesn't mean the fire is out. Crews on the ground say it remains active, he said.

Fire authorities outline plan for Wednesday at the Ptarmigan Fire

FitzSimons said he doesn't expect residents to be able to return to their homes permanently for at least the next 48 hours. That will depend on fire behavior and the weather, he said.

More than 500 homes are under evacuation or pre-evacuation notice:

  • Evacuation:
    • Upper Angler Mountain
    • Upper and lower Hamilton Creek neighborhoods
  • Pre-evacuation:
    • County Road 2020
    • East and uphill of County Road 2020
    • North of County Road 2021, including Daley Ranch
    • Fly Line Drive
    • Bald Eagle Road
    • South 40 neighborhood
Ptarmigan Fire map_Sept 28 2021

Click here for a larger version of the above map.

District Ranger Bianchi said fire officials were still gathering resources from around the state on Tuesday and now, armed with more ground resources, crews will work to put in a strong fire line along the western and southern flanks and to increase containment.

Bianchi said the focus has shifted from preventing the spread of the fire to putting in resources to create the fire line for good protection and to increase containment, all while protecting structures.

The area around the fire contains many standing dead trees, which can be hazardous for crews to work around. Bianchi said fire officials may decide to bring in dozers to help with this problem.

Dead standing trees on Ptarmigan Trai_2020
An area of the Ptarmigan Trail from 2020 that is currently within fire boundaries.

A mix of rain and snow is expected over the Silverthorne area on Wednesday. Air operations will also continue today, weather permitting.

Do not fly drones in the area as it interferes with aerial firefighting.

Click here to sign up for emergency alerts in Summit County. A public hotline is set up: 970-668-9700. Summit County Commissioner Josh Blanchard said anybody wanting to offer donations to help emergency personnel can make a cash contribution through the Red Cross.

Community meetings are planned for 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Silverthorne Town Hall, located at 601 Center Circle, and on the Summit County Facebook page.

A joint fire command including Summit Fire & EMS, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Forest Service is managing the fire.

The social media accounts and websites for Summit County, Summit County Sheriff's Office, Summit Fire & EMS, the Town of Silverthorne and the U.S. Forest Service will also post updates.

Recreational access to Ptarmigan Peak and Angler Mountain are closed.

Summit Middle School and Silverthorne Elementary School are operating normally.