SUMMIT COUNTY - All mandatory evacuation and orders have been lifted for residents near Silverthorne on Thursday afternoon, Summit County government announced.

The mandatory orders for residents in the Mesa Cortina and Wildernest subdivisions were lifted at 3 p.m. All areas in Mesa Cortina above Shooting Star and in Wildernest above 20 Grand Road are all under a pre-evacuation order, according to the Summit County government.

At last check, the fire was 20 percent contained. It had come within 250 feet of homes after breaking out Tuesday morning.

All residents and visitors to the county should remember Summit County is under Stage 1 fire restrictions. This is what that means.

Also, it's a good idea to keep your pets and animals from eating vegetation covered in fire retardant.

Incident Commander Jeff Berino said Wednesday morning that the fire was definitely human-caused.

Bill Jackson is the district ranger for the White River National Forest. He said that fuel breaks created years ago saved homes from burning. These are areas between 300-to-500 feet wide where trees and other potential fuel were removed to create a buffer between homes and the heavy woods.

"From the air, you could see the fuel breaks which follows the edge of these condos and homes," Jackson said. "It was fairly stark. It was right there in front of me. The pattern and where the firefighters were able to engage safely because of these fuel breaks. So, it was quite obvious to me that without these, we'd be in a totally different situation. We wouldn't be standing here."

Residents agreed that the fuel breaks made a big difference.

“It looked like it was coming over to my house,” said Martin Salinas, who lives in the Wildernest neighborhood and was forced to evacuate. “I had to gather my stuff and get out of there as soon as I could. And as I was leaving, there were police cars everywhere trying to get people out. It was very scary.”

Buffalo Mountain Fire viewer pic 2
Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss

The water quality was of a bit of concern Wednesday night, but the Mesa Cortina Water District said it's managed to maintain pressure in its distribution system. Environmental health officials said they believe the Buffalo Metro District water system and the Mesa Cortina district is safe for all normal uses.

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Members of the public with questions about the Buffalo Mountain Fire should call the hotline at 970-668-9730.

The wildfire, which started near the Mesa Cortina and the Buffalo Mountain trailheads, is in an area of heavy timber.

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The U.S. Forest Service is closing trails in the area including North Ten Mile, Meadow Creek, Salt Lick, Buffalo Mountain, Lily Pad Lake, Mesa Cortina, Willow Brook, Gore Trail at Red Buffalo Pass.