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Campfire Sparks Interlaken Fire in Colorado

BREAKING: Investigators Discover Unattended Campfire Sparked Interlaken Fire in Colorado

LAKE COUNTY, COLORADO – An unattended campfire has been identified as the cause of the rapidly spreading Interlaken Fire in Colorado, authorities revealed this afternoon. The blaze, which has doubled in size since its ignition on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, now spans 413 acres, threatening popular recreational areas and prompting evacuation orders.

According to a briefing by a U.S. Forest Service Fire Investigator, the fire originated from an abandoned campfire located approximately 60 yards from the Interlaken trail and 1.5 miles from the trailhead. The campfire, improperly extinguished, continued to smolder and eventually ignited the surrounding area. Investigators believe the fire was abandoned several days before it was reported.

Currently, officials have no leads on who left the fire unattended. Both the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Forest Service are seeking public assistance in identifying the responsible parties. Anyone with information regarding campers who had a fire near the Interlaken resort between June 7 and June 11 is urged to contact the Tip Line at 303-275-5266.

The Interlaken Fire has resulted in significant disruption and danger in the area. Evacuation orders are in place for the Interlaken historic district, including the once-popular mountain hotel, and County Road 25 on the south side of Twin Lakes. Pre-evacuation orders extend to Lost Canyon, Balltown, and County Road 30. Dispersed camping has been banned on the east side of Twin Lakes and near the Interlaken trailhead, and multiple trailheads and segments of the Colorado Trail have been closed.

“Public and firefighter safety is the priority as the fire burns in difficult terrain in a popular recreation area,” stated the U.S. Forest Service.

Residents and visitors are reminded of the critical importance of properly extinguishing campfires. Fires should be completely cold to the touch before being left unattended. Whitish or gray coals can retain heat and flare up with the wind. Campfires should be constructed away from flammable materials and fully extinguished using water and stirring the ashes until they are cool.

As firefighting efforts continue, heavy traffic is expected in the area. Numerous agencies, including Lake County Search and Rescue, Vail Fire and Emergency Services, Chaffee County Fire Protection District, Red White & Blue Fire, Summit Fire, and the USFS, are collaborating to combat the flames. So far, the Interlaken Historic District buildings remain safe, with crews stationed overnight to protect them.

The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office has also issued a pre-evacuation warning for residents and visitors between Clear Creek Reservoir and the Chaffee County-Lake County line. Although the fire has not crossed into Chaffee County, the situation remains dynamic.

As the investigation continues, the community is urged to remain vigilant and report any information that could help identify the individuals responsible for the unattended campfire that led to the Interlaken Fire.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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