23 Trapped Hikers Rescued by Helicopter as Wildfire Ignites Near Silverton, CO

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The Ice Fire, CO. Credit: Facebook

Firefighters are working from the air and land to contain a wildfire that started near a popular trailhead in San Juan County, CO near Silverton yesterday afternoon.

The Ice Fire on the Columbine Ranger District was reported on the afternoon of Monday, October 19th. The fire is located west from Silverton, CO, near Ice Lakes Trailhead, on the north side of the South Mineral Road.  It is burning in heavy, mixed conifer timber on National Forest System land. The cause of the fire is unknown and under investigation. As of Monday night, the fire is 320 acres.

A local Type 3 Incident Management Team assumed command Monday evening and is using a full suppression strategy on the fire. Ground resources are currently working to protect South Mineral Campground and hold fire from spreading south of South Mineral Road. Due to extremely rough terrain and heavy timber, ground crews will be utilizing aircraft to provide critical support. Resources currently assigned to the incident include 1 Air Attack, 5 helicopters, 6 single-engine air tankers, 4 engines, 1 fire suppression module, and a helitack crew.  Additional resources, including 3 hand crews and 1 water tender, have been ordered. Weather is predicted to continue to be warm with gusty winds, low relative humidity, and dry fuels.

The San Juan National Forest assisted San Juan County in the evacuation of hikers from the Ice Lakes area and trails. South Mineral Road (Forest System Road #585) is closed and South Mineral Campground has been evacuated. Forest visitors should avoid the fire area for their safety and ensure safe fire operations.

Please do not stop to watch aircraft and firefighting activities as this poses a hazard for fellow travelers. Smoke from the fire will be visible on Highway 550, Silverton, Durango, and other surrounding areas and communities.  Road signs are posted alerting any travelers of smoke and firefighting personnel and equipment in the area. Wildfire smoke may affect your health. For more information, please go to https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health  

Fire danger remains very high and Stage 1 fire restrictions are in place on the San Juan National Forest (order). Visitors are encouraged to practice extreme caution and be careful with anything that might start a fire. The Forest will continue to provide updates on the Ice Fire.

For more incident information please call San Juan National Forest Public Affairs Office at (970) 422-2671 or follow the San Juan National Forest and Durango Interagency Dispatch on social media.

All offices on the San Juan National Forest are conducting business and providing visitor services virtually. For information on the San Juan National Forest, call (970) 247-4874, visit the forest website, or follow us on social media Twitter and Facebook).

The Ice Fire, which started around 1 pm near the Ice Lakes trailhead had burned 320 acres as of 9 pm last night.

23 hikers and three dogs were trapped on the trail at the time, but have since been rescued by helicopter.

There aren’t currently any evacuation threats, but residents of San Juan County and Silverton should be prepared to evacuate should anything change. Those who live in the area can sign up for emergency alerts on Nixle by texting 81433 to 888-777.

Forest Service officials ask that the public avoid the area to let firefighters work and to prevent from creating bottle-neck traffic, “as this poses risks to fellow travelers in the area.”

The cause of the fire has not been determined at this point.

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Ice Lake trailhead, just west of Silverton, CO.

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One thought on “23 Trapped Hikers Rescued by Helicopter as Wildfire Ignites Near Silverton, CO

  1. in this horrific drought in colorado, people are still allowed to have campfires in designated areas.I’m more than a little bit confused. Is this due to losing revenue for the forest service? in my opinion there should be a complete fire ban across the state due to high fire danger and extreme drought. tell the tourists to camp in there own states and leave colorado’s wilderness alone.

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