GRANBY, Colo. – A large area of the Arapaho National Forest is reopening to the public this week following last year’s Williams Fork Fire, forest officials said in a news release Wednesday.
The Williams Fork Fire started on Aug. 14 about 10 miles southwest of Fraser and grew to 14,833 acres by the time it was contained more than three months later.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
“While many mitigation efforts have been completed along the roads and trails that are reopening, the public is warned that standing dead and burned trees are very unstable and can fall without warning at any time,” a spokesperson with the Arapaho National Forest said in the news release.
The official said visitors are at greater risk when traveling at high speeds, particularly in open-sided vehicles and when camping in burned forested areas. Additionally, the official warned that burned areas also contain “many unseen hazards” including burned stump holes, which they said present a danger to those walking off trail.
Furthermore, the forest service official warned that areas that remain closed may be prone to flooding, landslides, and rock and tree fall.
“Many of the roads and trails that remain closed were identified for further mitigation and stabilization prior to reopening. In addition, many of the closed motorized routes have severely damaged infrastructure such as bridges,” the national forest spokesperson said.
Dispersed camping will be allowed within 300 feet of most open roads, the forest official said, but some roads will be closed to dispersed camping due to the risk of flooding, landslides, and debris flow, they added.
It’s also worth noting that current Stage 2 fire restrictions in Grand County prevent the public from making or igniting campfires as well as warming fires.
“The East Troublesome Fire closure remains unchanged; however, we are working closely with our partners to continue mitigation and stabilization efforts that will allow us to re-open a considerable section of that closure area shortly,” the official said. “Forest employees, volunteers, and contractors will continue working toward opening more areas throughout the summer so be prepared for delays or temporary closures while this work occurs.”