The Sopris Sun

Lake Christine Fire mostly contained

Firebreaks had been established around 87 percent of the Lake Christine Fire perimeter by July 31 and that figure was expected to grow as the Type Two Incident Command Team prepared to hand things off to a smaller crew.

At more than 12,000 acres, the blaze has eclipsed 2002 Coal Seam Fire in terms of sheer size, destroying three homes in the process. The worst appears to be over, however, with all mandatory and pre-evauation orders withdrawn. 

Forest closures and no-fly orders remain in effect on Basalt Mountain, and smoke is likely to continue to be a problem until the fire is completely snuffed.  Everyone is encouraged to limit outdoor activity wherever visibility is less than five miles, particular those with heart disease or respiratory illness, the very young and the elderly.

Another potential complication is the potential for heavy flooding in burned areas when the next rainstorm comes through. According to Eagle County Emergency Manager Barry Smith, crews are in position to respond but residents may still be cut off for periods of time. 

The Lake Christine Fire has been burning since July 3, when Richard Miller, 23, and Allison Marcus, 22, apparently ignited the blaze by firing off tracer rounds at the Basalt State Wildlife Area shooting range on July 3. The pair were issued summonses for misdemeanor arson, subsequently upgraded to felony status. 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife later came under fire for keeping the range open — despite concerns from private citizens, municipal leaders and even within the agency — and has since closed all such facilities it manages in Northwest Colorado. 

 Fire danger remains critically high, with stage two fire restrictions in place. 

Last updated at 1 p.m. July 31.