Crews gain on Glenwood-area fire

Crews had their first successful day Wednesday fighting a wildfire near Glenwood Springs. Meanwhile, tourism officials in the town said visitation hasn’t been affected by the blaze.

The Red Canyon Fire burning southeast of Glenwood Springs was at 390 acres Wednesday evening, compared with 350 acres that morning, but the difference was because of more accurate mapping, said fire spokesman Bill Kight. Containment also grew during the day from 10 percent to 27 percent.

However, evacuation orders remain in place for up to 20 homes in the rural Lookout Mountain area outside town.

“We’re still not allowing them to return yet until we’re absolutely sure it’s safe for them,” he said.

Kight said if crews can hold the fire today, they likely will “turn the corner” on the way to full suppression.

The fire started Monday afternoon off Red Canyon Road outside Glenwood Springs and created a scare for residents and firefighters that evening when it began moving in the direction of the town under high winds.

The following day, it made a run in a different direction, forcing the evacuation order.

Monday’s run by the fire led to numerous photos in traditional and social media of a towering smoke plume hovering above the town in the setting sun. It also stirred memories of past major fires in the Glenwood area, including the 1994 fire on Storm King Mountain that killed 14 firefighters and the 2002 Coal Seam Fire that claimed about 30 homes.

Those fires, and this week’s, hit during the high tourism season for a town known for the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, fishing and whitewater boating on the Colorado River and other attractions. Lisa Langer, vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, said Wednesday, “To date, there have been no cancellations reported by any of our hospitality partners. The summer visitation numbers remain strong and unaffected.”

Mandy Gauldin, a spokeswoman for the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, said it hasn’t seen any impact from the fire, with visitation up Wednesday compared to a year ago the same day.

The chamber said Wednesday on its Facebook page, “Glenwood Springs is still open for business and fun as usual, and (we’ll) update you should that change!”

No structures have been lost and no injuries have occurred. Lightning is the suspected cause but an investigation continues.

Kight said 211 people were fighting the fire Wednesday.  Two heavy air tankers, two single-engine air tankers and two helicopters were working the blaze, and Kight said the heavy air tankers probably wouldn’t be needed today.

“I think as the smoke decreases things will get back to normal for most people,” he said.


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