New fire in Colorado, and smoke from New Mexico blows into Colorado

Smoke map - 1118 am MDT, May 26, 2012
Smoke map - 1118 am MDT, May 26, 2012
Map showing smoke from wildfires in New Mexico and Colorado - 11:18 a.m. MDT, May 26, 2012. NOAA

UPDATE at 5:46 p.m. MDT May 26, 2012 – Sunrise Mine Fire Evacuations in Colorado

The Montrose Interagency Fire Management Unit issued the following statement at 4:00 p.m. today:

The Montrose County Sheriff’s Posse has evacuated the Buckeye Reservoir, Rock Creek and Sinbad Valley due to the Sunrise Mine fire burning about four miles north of Paradox, Colo. Additionally, the Montrose County Sheriff closed Buckeye Road, R1 Road and U5 Road.

The rest of the statement can be accessed HERE.

A weather station 20 miles southwest of the fire recorded average wind speeds of 32 to 38 mph, with gusts up to 60 mph Saturday afternoon. The relative humidity at 5:20 p.m. was 11 percent. The strong winds have created dust storms in some areas of western Colorado.

The Western Great Basin Coordination Center reports “Rocky Basin Team #2 Committed to Sunrise Mine CO-UPD”. We’re not sure if that’s a Buying Team or an Incident Management Team. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has also been ordered.


Some residents of Colorado are detecting a strong odor of smoke and are assuming that there is a nearby fire, but depending on their location, it is most likely coming from the Whitewater-Baldy fire in western New Mexico.

However, there is a new rapidly spreading fire in western Colorado 46 miles southwest of Grand Junction, and 4 miles northwest of Paradox, Colorado burning on both sides of the Colorado/Utah border. That fire, the Sunrise Mine Fire, is being affected by south or southwest winds at around 20 mph gusting to about 40 mph according to data from nearby weather stations. Saturday morning the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for western Colorado which will be in effect until 9 p.m Saturday night. Their forecast includes south winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph below 8,000 feet, and up to 75 mph on exposed ridges above 8,000 feet. The relative humidity should be 10 to 15 percent.

A spot weather forecast issued for the fire Saturday morning predicted increasing winds throughout the day, averaging 20 to 30 mph and gusting at 50 to 60 mph by 3 p.m.

On the map above the small dot on the UT/CO border is this new fire. The coordinates of the fire are N38.288N W108.5920 . More details are on the map below.

Map of Sunrise Mine Fire, 1149 p.m. MDT, May 25, 2012
Map of Sunrise Mine Fire, shows heat detected by satellites at 11:49 p.m. MDT, May 25, 2012

The size of the Sunrise Mine fire is approximately 2,800 acres. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered.


Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+