Basalt Fire day 3: Overnight winds push flames into El Jebel, toward Missouri Heights | CraigDailyPress.com

Basalt Fire day 3: Overnight winds push flames into El Jebel, toward Missouri Heights

Scott Condon
Aspen Times

Anna Stonehouse, Aspen Times

UPDATE 10 a.m. – The Garfield County Sheriff's Office advises that areas of Garfield County in the Missouri Heights area north of Highway 82 and east of County Road 100 to upper Cattle Creek are now under voluntary evacuation orders, with all of Eagle County under mandatory evacuation orders in the Missouri Heights area.

"People in Garfield County are encouraged to gather their belongings and err on the side of caution by evacuating at this time," according to a news release. "The nature of the fire is unpredictable and a turn in weather conditions, local ambient conditions or available fuel sources could alter the course of the fire at any time. This happened last evening and the new direction required an immediate change in direction and the re-direction of available resources.

"If the fire direction changes again time may be of the essence in leaving your residence immediately," the Garfield Sheriff also advises. "Better to evacuate now in a prepared and orderly fashion and make plans."

Closures to the general public are currently in place on County Road 100 and County Road 102 in order to maintain and enforce the evacuation orders.

BASALT, Colorado — The Lake Christine Fire was pushed overnight Wednesday into Thursday by strong winds that started around midnight and lasted into the morning hours.

Hundreds of people gathered in the parking lots of the Willits Town Center and watched early into the morning as the flames from the fire, which started Tuesday at the shooting range on the Basalt State Wildlife Area, swept toward El Jebel.

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Residents first in the El Jebel area and then in Missouri Heights had mandatory evacuations as the winds pushed flames downvalley. As well, the evacuation center was moved from the Basalt High School to the Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale.

Local officials said a meeting was planned at 7 a.m. Thursday with the federal authorities who are taking command of the fire operations. A news briefing likely will be scheduled after that.

Federal authorities are setting up a command center at the Crown Mountain Park area.

The fire had burned 2,700 acres as of 7 p.m. Thursday.

Authorities issued a mandatory evacuation notice for Missouri Heights at 12:47 a.m. Thursday.

"All residents in Missouri Heights should evacuate immediately," the alert said. "Evacuate via Fender Lane to Catherine Store Road, then take (Highway) 82." Roaring Fork High School has been designated as a shelter.

The hillside above the El Jebel area was aglow shortly after sunset. Calm conditions suddenly turned wicked with wind. Firefighters shot flares to the upvalley or easterly side of the El Jebel Mobile Home Park around 11 p.m. to burn fuels in a somewhat controlled manner and prevent the advance of the wildfire.

Residents El Jebel Mobile Home Park were ordered to evacuate at about 9:40 p.m. Wednesday when the Lake Christine Fire crested a ridge and winds pushed flames toward the heavily populated area.

This is a developing story that will be updated.