Wildfire Facts

More Coloradans than ever live in an area that is at high risk for wildfire. Here are some facts that we hope will inform our residents about their safety.

Wildland Urban Interface

At the Valley of Winter Park we live in what is called the wildland urban interface or WUI. We live in a beautiful forest and get to see elk and moose and pronghorn, but it comes with extra personal responsibility. It is concerning that megafires (fires that burn over 100,000 acres) are no longer novel in Colorado. A combination of climate change, severe drought, less percipitation and fierce winds are the causes of our increased wildfire risk.

2020 Fires

The total loss from 2 major fires in Grand County, in 2020 alone are approximately over 210,000 acres, and both fires are not yet out (as of November 1, 2020). The East Troublesome fire spread over 100,000 acres in a single night, at a rate of over 6,000 acres per hour, which was over 100 acres per minute. 366 homes were lost in fire.

Williams Fork Fire

The William’s Fork Fire is threatening the Valley at Winter Park. We have included some photos to provide context. Please stay safe, and stay up to date with all your Firewise checklist.

Sheep Mountain is in the foreground. Photo Credits: Marty Tod of Tabernash – September, 2020

East Troublesome Fire

The East Troublesome Fire started on October 14, 2020, to the Northwest of Granby. A week later, on the night of Wednesday, October 21, high winds caused the fire to spread towards the town of Grand Lake, and up and over Rocky Mountain National Park.

Photo Credits: Michael Doberson of Tabernash, Don Metzler of Fraser

Rocky Mountain National Park Facebook page

Portions of Grand County are in exceptional drought status in 2020 (US Drought Monitor).

How to Live in a Wildfire Urban Interface

This starts with individual homeowners/lot owners mitigating fire risks on their properties (see Ready, Set, Go) county, state and federal agencies all have a role as well (Sheep Mountain Fuel Break Project)

Get Mobile Phone Alerts

Visit the Code Red Website or call office of emergency management at 970-887-2732

More Info on How to Evacuate

Ready, Set, Go

Current CO Wildfire Map

Colorado Map

Sheep Mountain
Fire Break Project

Sheep Mountain lies on the western border of the Valley at Winter Park with approximately 1 mile separating the two. Sheep Mountain is primarily federal land (Bureau of Land Management) and has lost approximately 80-90% of its trees to the bark beetle. These lodegepole trees represent a huge amount of hazardous fuel either on the ground or standing and pose a threat of a catastrophic fire. A contingent of Homeowners Associations, private landowners, the Pole Creek Golf Course, and the YMCA of Snow Mountain Ranch, and Young Life have joined together to petition the BLM and the Colorado State Forest Service to build a fuel break on the 5 mile long eastern side of Sheep Mountain.

A fuel break allows fire fighters to be there safely to assist in slowing down and fighting a wildfire. Fifty to seventy tons of woody material per acre will be removed to reduce the amount of fuel available to a wildfire. Recent wildfires have attributed the rapid containment of some wildfires to the prior establishment of a fuel break and fuel mitigation.

Individuals owning parcels privately and HOAs have summarized the fire mitigation efforts that they have done since the bark beetle epidemic. This shows the BLM that the private owners have done and continue to do their part in mitigating the fire danger.

The Colorado State Forest Service agent, Matt Shiltz, has been named chair of the working group and has brought in the Good Neighbor Act, which allows state and federal agencies to work together on federal land.