Ice Fire

Smoke from the Ice Fire near the Ice Lakes Trailhead was visible in the Telluride area earlier this week. (Photo courtesy of San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office)

Smoke that’s been visible in the Telluride area is from the Ice Fire, which started Monday afternoon on the north side of South Mineral Road near the Ice Lakes Trailhead west of Silverton.

As of press time Tuesday afternoon, the fire on U.S. Forest Service land was approximately 320 acres, according to an update from the San Juan National Forest.

“It is burning in heavy, mixed conifer timber,” according to a news release. “ … The cause of the fire is unknown and under investigation.

San Juan National Forest and San Juan County officials evacuated hikers in the area surrounding Ice Lakes, as well as South Mineral Campground. South Mineral Road, also known as Forest Service Road No. 585, was closed, as of Tuesday morning.

“A local Type 3 Incident Management Team assumed command Monday evening and is using a full suppression strategy on the fire,” according to the release. “Ground resources are currently working to protect South Mineral Campground and hold fire from spreading south of South Mineral Road. Due to extremely rough terrain and heavy timber, ground crews will be utilizing aircraft to provide critical support. Resources currently assigned to the incident include one Air Attack, five helicopters, six single engine air tankers, four engines, one fire suppression module and a helitack crew.  Additional resources, including three hand crews and one water tender, have been ordered. Weather is predicted to continue to be warm with gusty winds, low relative humidity and dry fuels.”

Smoke will continue to be visible in the region, as officials urged people to avoid the area and be aware of impacts along Highway 550 and pay attention to related road signs.

“Travelers should use extreme caution,” according to the release. Stage 1fire restrictions are still in place in the San Juan National Forest.

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Telluride officials explained that no local resources have been requested to assist with the Ice Fire efforts.

“Currently we’re committed elsewhere,” said John Cheroske, Telluride Fire Protection District’s wildfire coordinator.

Four local firefighters have been dispatched to the East Troublesome Fire outside of Granby, which is just under 16,000 acres, as of press time.

Cheroske explained he’s been in touch with state officials about possibly assisting with the CalWood Fire north of Boulder and the Cameron Peak Fire.

Though the Ice Fire is close, Telluride resources aren’t needed right now. 

“With this (the Ice Fire), it is close by, we can reconsider and help out if need be depending on what it does over the next couple days, but right now we’re not on standby for it,” Cheroske said.

The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office announced Stage 1 fire restrictions Tuesday through at least Saturday at 5 p.m., which calls out no open fires, controlled burns, or exceptions or exemptions, even on private property.

Campfires are permitted only at established campgrounds in established fire grates, and must be attended at all times and properly extinguished, according to the Sheriff’s Office

“In general, it’s usually based on the fuels conditions and the expected weather. Right now our fuels conditions are drier than normal for this time of year and our expected weather is a little warmer for this time of year, but it’s also not the warmth of summer,” Cheroske said. “ … We usually get more moisture in September going into October, and we’re not seeing that yet.”

The fall presents some different conditions, mainly with the dead flora, though the region hasn’t experienced high winds.

“The leaves as they fall off the trees can definitely help spread fire around, but we haven’t seen any winds,” he added. “On the Front Range, they’re seeing winds anywhere from 30 mph to 60 mph push those fires every single day. We’re seeing 10 mph winds around here.”