By Jeff Todd
EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Basalt Fire chief said it’d been decades since the wind blew from East to West in the afternoon, but those were the conditions when the Lake Christine Fire began on Tuesday.
He apologized to the community on Wednesday night saying his fighting tactic had failed.
The fire exploded on Wednesday as wind returned to normal, it’s now burned more than 2,377 acres.
“We know everything is dry. We’ve had about one rain since the snow ended in about April,” said Joanie Haggerty who evacuated Wednesday afternoon.
Five hundred homes have been evacuated, and 150 firefighters are fighting on the ground, even more with helicopters and air tankers in the sky. So far, no structures have been lost.
As the fire grew, everyone in and around Basalt had a perfect view of the fire.
“It’s pretty nerve wracking actually, you can see the progression of the fire. It was over there and relatively small, but all of this happened during the day, because the wind has been blowing that way,” said Mick Shattuck. “They’ve been doing a good job you can see the red line where they’ve been doing a barrier of slurry all above the residential area.”
By Wednesday night the fire was burning up Basalt Mountain, but wasn’t advancing toward evacuated homes.
At a community meeting a Forest Service official said the fire could burn for weeks, until a rain event helps the firefight. Hot, dry conditions remain in the long-term forecast.
LINK: Lake Christine Fire Info
“It’s not just the fire department, everybody has to be proactive in Colorado in a year like this,” said Haggerty. “Basalt is the best place ever to live in the world, and we want to live here for another 40 years.”
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.