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Abandoned campfire sparked wildfire near Twin Lakes, USFS finds

TWIN LAKES, Colorado – An abandoned campfire sparked a wildfire that burned more than 400 acres of land in the Twin Lakes area.

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, the Interlaken Fire, burning 20 miles south of Leadville on the south side of Twin Lakes Reservoir, has reached 413 acres and is 0% contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

In a post on Facebook, the Forest Service said the fire started from an abandoned campfire located about 180 feet (55 meters) from the Interlaken Hiking Trail and 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the trailhead. Investigators found the campfire was not properly extinguished and continued to burn.

Abandoned campfire sparked wildfire near Twin Lakes, USFS finds

US Forest Service

Investigators believe the campfire was abandoned several days before it was discovered on Tuesday.

The U.S. Forest Service said it currently has no leads on who left the fire unattended. Anyone with information about campers who caused a fire near the Interlaken Resort between Friday, June 7 and Tuesday, June 11 is asked to call 303-275-5266.

Abandoned campfire sparked wildfire near Twin Lakes, USFS finds

US Forest Service

The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office said evacuation orders are in place for residents and visitors from Clear Creek Reservoir to the Chaffee County-Lake County line.

“This is only a pre-evacuation notice at this time. Please be prepared to leave the area if it becomes necessary. We will also be sending an emergency alert (Everbridge notification) to people in this area,” the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office said on social media.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office lifted an evacuation order for Balltown, while evacuation orders remain in effect for Lost Canyon and Cache Creek.

Interlaken fire map.jpg

Information about the fire in Interlaken

“Please be aware that several trails and roads are currently closed,” officials said on social media, including in the following areas:

  • Starting point and parking Interlaken
  • Willis Gulch Trail
  • Sheep Gulch Hiking Trail
  • Sections of the Colorado Trail in the Twin Lakes area
  • Forest Service Road 399 and scattered campgrounds around the lake.

According to the Forest Service, camping is not permitted on the east side of Twin Lakes or near the Interlaken Hiking Trail.

Fire in Twin Lakes, Colorado: Video shows smoke cloud and helicopter deployment

Resources from the U.S. Forest Service, Lake County Search and Rescue, Vail Fire and Chaffee County Fire Protection District responded to the wildfire.

A total of 135 emergency personnel were deployed to fight the fire, including helicopters and firefighting aircraft.

“Air forces continue to drop buckets of water and fire retardant on the fire to minimize the spread of the fire,” the Forest Service said in a news release. “Firefighters are working to protect a number of at-risk assets, including private property, historic buildings in Interlaken, Canadian lynx habitat and utility infrastructure.”

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said buildings in the historic Interlaken district were not at risk Tuesday evening.

The Denver Fire Department Wildland Team said Crews are on their way to Lake County to help fight the fire.

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