Breckenridge, Colorado Wildfires

2 018 brought Colorado another dry and warm June, similar to 2017. When the weather is dry, the fear of wildfires lurks in the minds of mountain residents, business owners, and visitors. Fears came to fruition earlier this month with the Buffalo Mountain Fire, only 14 miles north of Breckenridge, Colorado, near the Wildernest area of Silverthorne, Co. The Buffalo Mountain wildfire burned 91 acres and came within 250 yards of hundreds of homes, but was no match for the efforts of firefighting crews and a blessed day of rain. The fire was determined to be human-caused.

The renowned Peak 2 fire last June (also human-caused) burned 84 acres and was widely reported by the media as a fire in Breckenridge, Colorado although the fire was 2 miles north and actually closer to the town of Frisco.  As a vacation rental company, it taught us how misconceived wildfires can be by those who do not live in the area.

We absolutely do not want to imply that these wildfires are not detrimental or without far-reaching consequences. However, we do want to alleviate fear and enlighten incoming and future guests with a different perspective in the event of a future wildfire.

Breckenridge Wildfires: The Fear

Here at Book Breck Vacation Homes on July 5, 2017, an ordinary day in the office, we learned via our background noise on Krystal 93 that a fire had broken out on Peak 2 and that the Peak 7 neighborhood was being evacuated. One of our staff who lives on Peak 7 rushed home in a panic to gather her most valued items- her dog, her skis and her mountain bike. All Peak 7 residents would be forced out of their homes for the next week.

The Peak 2 fire broke out at 11 am, a few miles north of our Main Street office. This wildfire smoke plume photo was taken just behind our office at 3:37 pm. See the gondola traversing up Peak 8 for perspective.

And this was the scene from Baldy Road at 5:15 pm the same day with the wildfire seemingly burning just above the town of Breckenridge, Colorado.

In the face of the unknown and fearing a further widespread evacuation, it was no surprise to find long lines at the only two gas stations in town.

The hazy air made for some beautiful sunsets that evening just before the town of Breckenridge went to sleep for the night.

Over the next several days, the Peak 2 wildfire became an international story, “A MASSIVE inferno has left thousands in danger of being engulfed as the blaze rages uncontrollably.”

The world was reading and hearing stories with sensational headlines such as “The fire jumped from 50 feet to 20 acres in a matter of hours”, “The entire town is being prepared for evacuation as the inferno spreads rapidly towards the settlement.” Visual media included scenes like these:

Phone calls, texts, and Facebook messages from family and friends out of state came pouring in.  “Are you okay?” “Have you packed up and left town?”  “Are you sure you’re safe?”

And, of course, hourly we were receiving calls from panicked incoming guests, fearing their vacations were ruined. “Is the town on fire?”  “Has the town been evacuated?” “How close is the fire to our vacation house?” “Will we be able to breathe?”  “What if the fire spreads and we have to leave?”

However….despite the fear, the unknown, the scary photos and reports, the reality in Breckenridge was this:

Breckenridge Wildfires: The Reality

On the afternoon of July 6, just over 24 hours since the fire broke out and was continuing to burn, we posted these photos on our Book Breck Facebook page, taken out the front and back doors of our office on Main Street Breckenridge, in hopes of assuring those not in the area that all was well.

For the safety of our in-house guests, each of them were contacted to ensure they were aware of the situation. Almost all of them were completely oblivious. Some had noticed the smoke plume the day before, but did not give it a passing thought. They were in vacation mode, having not heard or seen the news, happily carrying on with planned activities.

With the exception of our staff member who was still barred from returning home, it was business as usual in our personal lives as well.  A staff member’s son received his first paycheck from his job at Alpine Sports. Another staff member greatly enjoyed a stand-up paddleboard yoga class on Maggie Pond.

While the firefighters continued to battle the blaze on Peak 2, life was beautiful in downtown Breckenridge.

When the fire was out, this was the sad aftermath near the popular Peaks and Miners Creek trails. Thankfully, no persons were injured and no structures damaged.

A year later, we still cannot adequately express our gratitude for every single person who worked to put out the wildfire. We are lucky that fire fighting and fire mitigation are top priorities in Summit County.

Thousands of acres are currently burning in Colorado. The current fire danger is rated very high for Summit County. The Towns of Breckenridge and Frisco decided on June 27th to cancel the 2018 4th of July fireworks displays. However, you are still safe to travel here…. and even have fun! 

Open fires are banned and will not only result in hefty fines but also public scorn by residents and lovers of the High Country. Don’t be the person who leaves a camp fire unattended and returns to find their entire camp dismantled or vandalized by vigilantes of our beloved woods.

Current Restrictions, STAGE 2

The following acts are prohibited:

  • Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire.
  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.
  • Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark-arresting device properly
    installed, maintained, and in effective working order.

Breckenridge Wildfires: The Bottom Line

Don’t rely on the media to make a decision about whether or not to travel to Breckenridge or Summit County during wildfire season. Talk to people who live and work here and have first-hand knowledge of current conditions (our welcome center, tourism office, local police department, vacation rental company, etc.). Check out the Red, White, & Blue Fire Protection District Facebook page or the Summit Fire & EMS Facebook page. Be extremely respectful and abide by all fire restrictions. A bad decision can lead to major destruction, can injure or kill people and/or wildlife, and change the landscape of our beautiful forests for years to come.

Book Breck serves a wide variety of lodging needs in Breckenridge with cabins and homes ranging from 2-6 bedrooms. The local staff wants guests to feel as if they have a friend in town who can cater quickly to all needs and provide insider information.

Book Breck by 360 Blue is an award-winning vacation rental company located in Breckenridge, Colorado.

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