Buffalo Fire: Evacuation Order Lifted For Silverthorne Neighborhoods

Jun 14, 2018

June 14, 4:30 p.m. update:

An evacuation order has been lifted for nearly 1,400 people who were forced to flee their homes this week by a wildfire in central Colorado.

The Summit County Sheriff's Office lifted the order on Thursday. It affected two neighborhoods in Silverthorne, Colorado, a popular jumping-off point for area ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains.

Fire officials say they've stopped the 90-acre fire that ignited Tuesday. They credited fire breaks — areas cleared of flammable trees and vegetation between forested areas and buildings — for helping restrain the blaze's advance toward homes and condos.

Summit Fire Chief Jeff Berino has said the fire was caused by humans. An investigation continues.

June 13, 9:00 a.m. update:

As of Wednesday morning, the Buffalo Fire is burning at 86 acres and evacuation notices remain in effect. The overnight shelter at Frisco Elementary School will open at 7 p.m. for evacuees. 

While reaching 100 acres at its largest, the fire has primarily threatened two Silverthorne subdivisions — Wildernest and Mesa Cortina. U.S. Forest Service spokesman Adam Bianchi says the fire came within about 200 yards of one of the subdivisions.

"This area, there is a lot of homes that are pretty tightly packed together," Bianchi said. "Being a resort town, there's a need for a lot of housing and there's only so much available space for good land to build on."

Officials said the fire spread very quickly initially, but was quickly contained due to a fast response from firefighters and Summit County resources.

"I was absolutely shocked by how fast it spread," Silverthorne resident Jake Schulman told The Summit Daily after spotting the fire while hiking.

No homes have been destroyed. Officials have not released containment numbers.

June 12, 6:30 p.m. update:

The Buffalo Mountain Fire, burning 2 miles west of Silverthorne, has not grown signifcantly over the afternoon according to officials at a 6:15 p.m. public meeting. Officials did not have specific containment numbers at that time.

Incident Commander Jim Genung with the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit said the response to the fire has been quick and aggressive.

"At this time, everything looks good here in both these subdivisions," said Genung, refering to the Mesa Cortina and Wildernest neighborhoods.

Genung credited fuel breaks built around the neighorhoods with preventing the fire from spreading farther.

"It's almost textbook the way it worked out," said Genung. "Those fuel breaks have been everything for the firefighters."

Over 1,300 homes are under evacuation notice and another 1,160 are on pre-evacuation notice. No structures have been damaged. An overnight shelter is available at the Frisco Elementary School starting at 8 p.m. Pets should be taken to the Summit County Animal Shelter, which is accepting pets until 8:30 p.m.

Summit County issued stage one fire restrictions after the start of the Buffalo Mountain Fire.

June 12, 5:20 p.m. original post:

A fire burning north of Silverthorne in Summit County is burning at 91 acres according to officials. Over 1,300 homes have been evacuated and an addition 1,160 residences are on pre-evaucation notice.

As of 2 p.m. the following resources are responding to the Buffalo Mountain Fire:

  • 50 firefighters on the ground with an additional 100 en route
  • 1 heavy air tanker
  • 1 Type III helicopter
  • 1 air attack plane

The following resources are on order:

  • 3 heavy air tankers
  • 2 large air tankers
  • 2 Type II helicopters

As reported by the Associated Press, the fire is burning near two densely populated housing developments. No buildings have been lost. Firefighters are getting some help from firefighting aircraft as they try to stop the fire early.

The Buffalo Mountain Fire is one of several fires currently burning in Colorado, including the 416 Fire near Durango and the Burro Fire in Montezuma County. 

This is a developing story. Some things that get reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.