This article was updated on Aug. 1 at 1:30 p.m. MST
Firefighting crews are currently working to contain the Lowline Fire, which began the morning of Wednesday, July 26 with a lightning strike about 11 miles southwest of Crested Butte.
The blaze is currently burning about 12 miles northwest of the town of Gunnison, in a mixed spruce and aspen forest above 9,000 ft. that includes heavy, downed trees.
As of Tuesday, Aug. 1, the Lowline Fire has grown to more than 1400 acres, recently doubling in size over the weekend.
Residents in the Squirrel Creek and Mill Creek drainage — about 50 homes altogether — have been issued mandatory evacuation orders due to the immediate threat to structures. Specifics regarding the evacuated area and evacuation warnings can be viewed online.
Hand crews, along with several air tankers, engine crews, and helicopters totaling more than 400 total personnel, are working to limit the spread of the Lowline Fire, which is 22 percent contained as of Tuesday, Aug. 1.
Those efforts, which include lighting backburns, were stymied on Sunday, July 30 by a severe thunderstorm.
“You will see increased acreage in the days to come. But that doesn’t mean that the main fire is making a run. It means we are backing off and burning off fuel from our existing control lines,” said Rick Barton, spokesman for the interagency incident management team working to contain the blaze.
Firefighters are hoping that projected rain will aid their efforts this week, allowing them to gain further control of the conflagration.
After the fire’s initial spread last Wednesday evening, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued a verbal disaster declaration on Thursday morning, activating the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center.
Colorado, aided by heavy snowpack and a wet spring, has had just one fire burn more than 1,000 acres this year. However, a recent spate of hotter temperatures and dry weather has escalated wildfire risk heading into August, particularly for southwestern Colorado.
A new air quality alert has been issued by the National Weather Service for Gunnison County, running through 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug 1.
Officials are urging people not to call in the fire or to seek additional information from 911 operators, as it strains emergency resources in the region.
People with large animals impacted by the fire and the resulting evacuations may take them to the Gunnison County Fairgrounds, located at 275 S Spruce St A, Gunnison, CO 81230.
You can also attain more information about the fire on its incident management page.