Buffalo Mountain Fire Near Silverthorne Prompts Evacuations

<p>Courtesy Summit County Government <a href="https://www.facebook.com/SummitCountyGov/photos/a.784053824973987.1073741828.192261100819932/1712454762133884/?type=3&theater">Facebook</a></p>
<p>Smoke hanging over the Buffalo Mountain Fire as seen from the intersection of Highway 6 and Dillon Dam Road, June 12, 2018.</p>
Photo: Buffalo Mountain Fire 1 | Smoke seen from - Summit FB
Smoke hanging over the Buffalo Mountain Fire as seen from the intersection of Highway 6 and Dillon Dam Road, June 12, 2018.

Published 1:51 p.m. | Updated 2:08 p.m.

Another wildfire is being fought in Colorado, this time near the town of Silverthorne along the busy Interstate 70 corridor. The Buffalo Mountain Fire in the White River National Forest is an estimated 91 acres and throwing sparks and embers very close to structures in the Mesa Cortina and Wildernest neighborhoods.

The Summit County Sherriff’s Office has issued evacuation orders to those neighborhoods above 20 Grand Road, about half-way up Buffalo Mountain Road. Areas in those neighborhoods below 20 Grand Road are on pre-evacuation notice. The evacuation shelter is Silverthorne Recreation Center at 430 Rainbow Drive.

Glimpses of today's #BuffaloFire near Wildernest here in Summit County via @SummitDailyNews photographer @hughcarey02.

As of 40 minutes ago, @Summit_Fire reported 1,384 residences have been evacuated, no lost structures at this point.

Updates here: https://t.co/GdRRbMLud4 pic.twitter.com/Hq07nOklDG

Summit County Sheriff Jamie FitzSimons said that about 1,000 people are affected at the moment in a quickly changing situation. “There’s a lot of structures and a lot of people we’re trying to move,” he said.

Atypical hot weather and erratic wind in the valley are a challenge for fighting the fire. Adam Bianchi, the public information officer for White River, said they’re seeing “a lot of spotting ahead of the fire” as it heads to areas with heavy fuels.

“We've got some good fuel breaks up there from past fuels reduction timber projects. We're hoping to really rely on those defense areas along the subdivision. We've got resources on scene and we've got air resources that are currently on the way.”

Officials have requested what they called a “big air attack” with their hopes pinned on keeping the fire from jumping the established fire break around the neighborhoods.

Here's a satellite image showing the clear fire break surrounding the Wildernest/Mesa Cortina neighborhoods. These fire breaks are common in big mountain subdivisions, and this is why. #BuffaloMountainFire pic.twitter.com/hhaD7lpwWK

The forest service over the past few years has tried to reduce potential fuels in what’s known as the wildland-urban interface — a very familiar term for many Coloradans who live in the mountains or the foothills.

Both FitzSimons and Bianchi are pointing residents and visitors seeking fire information to social media, either the county gov on Twitter or Summit Fire & EMS. Updated emergency information is also being distributed online by Summit County here.

Meanwhile, the 416 Fire in Southwest Colorado has now grown to 35 square miles, and San Juan National Forest officials in southwestern Colorado planned to close hundreds of miles of trails and thousands of miles of back roads to hikers, bikers, horseback riders and campers as a safety precaution.

Residents of more than 2,000 homes have been forced to evacuate because of the 416 Fire that started June 1.