Since the lightning-caused Pine Gulch Fire was discovered July 31 it has burned 11,846 acres 15 miles north of Grand Junction, Colorado. It was very active on Wednesday with most of the growth, an additional 6,161 acres, occurring on the northeast and northwest sides. The fire is expanding beyond lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management onto private property.
Aerial resources are available again Thursday to assist firefighters on the ground. Four more engines and additional crews will be added to a “swing shift.” These crews will work the late afternoon to early morning hours on the south side of the fire to continue operations initiated during the day.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect in the area from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. due to gusty winds and hot, dry conditions. The forecast calls for wind gusts of 25 to 30 mph in the afternoon with very low humidity – near 10%. Conditions over next two days will be critical on the fire as activity is expected to increase, with the potential for high rates of spread.
Resources on the Pine Gulch Fire include 4 hand crews, 16 engines, 4 helicopters, and a variable number of air tankers for a total of 292 personnel.
A Type 2 Incident Management Team led by Incident Commander Troy Hagan is assigned.
Firefighters are making progress on the Elephant Butte Fire burning on steep terrain two miles northwest of Evergreen Lake, Colorado. The update from the Jefferson County Sheriff Tuesday morning indicated the fire had not grown overnight and was still 50 acres.
The Elephant Butte Fire, reported Monday afternoon west of Evergreen, Colorado has prompted the evacuation of about 1,000 homes, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff Department. The evacuation orders are expected to remain in effect through Monday night.
The fire is burning on steep terrain two miles northwest of Evergreen Lake. It is being suppressed by firefighters from several departments, three large air tankers, three helicopters, single engine air tankers, and the Tatanka and Pike Hotshot crews. Firefighters had to withdraw from the fire around 7 p.m. due to lighting, but planned to reengage.
At about 8 p.m. MDT the state’s multi-mission aircraft mapped the Elephant Butte Fire at 48 acres.
At 6:30 p.m. there were no reports of injuries or burned structures.
Investigators from the South Metro Fire Rescue Fire Marshal’s Office determined that an electrical malfunction on a power pole started the Chatridge 2 Fire that burned 461 acres south of Denver yesterday.
The South Metro public information officer said the first Chatridge Fire occurred in 2016, “same area and same cause”.
The fire is still 100 percent contained and firefighters are mopping up today.
More photos of air tankers at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (Jeffco) taken June 29 are at Fire Aviation.
(Originally published at 3:31 p.m. MDT June 29, 2020)
In about four and a half hours today the Chatridge 2 Fire burned 456 acres south of Denver in Douglas County, finally bumping up against structures south of Highway 470 and east of Highway 85.
Firefighters stopped the spread of the fire as it reached Skydance Drive, thanks to the help of at least three large air tankers and multiple helicopters.
The fire moved quickly through brush and grass pushed by 17 mph winds gusting to 34 mph while the relative humidity was in the low teens.
It was reported at 9:49 a.m. and the spread was stopped at 2:42 p.m. MDT, June 29.
One of the large air tankers was Tanker 02 (N474NA), a BAe-146 dispatched out of Pueblo. There was also a P-3, Tanker 22 (N922AU), that just came on duty yesterday on the first exclusive use contract ever issued by the state of Colorado. An MD87 was also seen over the fire. The large air tankers were slated to work the fire until about 3:30 p.m.
Strong winds and extremely low humidity on Saturday caused the Cherry Canyon Fire, 13 miles north of Kim, Colorado, to spread to the northwest crossing County Road 193.5 west of Highway 109. Colorado Fire Prevention & Control said Saturday evening that the fire was mapped at 11,818 acres at 5 p.m.
In a five-hour period Saturday morning the humidity dropped from 92 to 8 percent while the southwest wind was blowing at 3 to 8 mph gusting to 31, according to records from a portable weather station installed near the fire. Spread of the fire slowed Saturday night and by 7:45 Sunday morning the humidity had risen to 69 percent. Rain began falling after 4 p.m., with 0.15 inches accumulating by 11 p.m.
Below is an excerpt from a news release by Colorado Fire Prevention & Control:
Firefighters camped out on the West side of the fire last night and completed a large portion of work in the accessible terrain and will continue to monitor the inaccessible areas. Firefighters on the East side of the fire were not able to conduct burnout operations last night due to unfavorable conditions, but worked in that region today to tie in the large slopover/run from yesterday afternoon.
Additionally, while there are few structures at risk from this fire, other values, such as grazing land, water, and livestock, are very important in this region. Allowing the fire to continue to burn eliminates feed for cattle, exposes steep slopes to be susceptible to erosion, and causes health concerns from the increased smoke. As is normal in every wildfire, a risk-benefit analysis is conducted before actions are initiated; from this discussion, it was determined that rather than smoking out communities, removing grazing land for cattle and impacting communities with restrictions on travel/road closures, it is better to suppress the fire.
(UPDATED at 11:28 a.m. MDT May 23, 2020)
In an update Friday at 5:40 p.m. MDT the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control said the lightning-caused Cherry Canyon Fire had burned 9,602 acres. A Type 3 Incident Management Team led by Phil Daniels is assigned.
(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Cherry Canyon Fire click here)
“Safety is the number one priority and as such, strategies moving forward include maintaining firefighter and public safety by utilizing sound risk management actions and utilizing suppression activities that guide the fire into natural barriers,” the agency said in a news release. “Additionally, [we are] minimizing the potential impacts of COVID-19 through the practice of social distancing, proper personal hygiene, and regular cleaning.”
The fire is in southeast Colorado 9 miles northwest of Kim and 58 miles east-northeast of Trinidad. It was reported at 8:28 MDT on Wednesday.
Strong winds and difficult access are making fighting the fire difficult.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect again for the fire area from noon to 8 p.m. MDT today due to gusty winds, low relative humidity, and dry fuels.
(Originally published at 11:40 a.m. MDT May 22, 2020)
The Cherry Canyon Fire that was reported May 20 grew rapidly Thursday and has now burned 7,390 acres. The fire is in southeast Colorado 9 miles northwest of Kim and 58 miles east-northeast of Trinidad.
(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Cherry Canyon Fire, including the most recent, click here)
From the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control Friday morning:
Yesterday was the first shift for our folks on the #CherryCanyonFire near Kim, CO. The fire made an impressive 6000+ acre push yesterday due to sustained winds of around 40mph.
On Thursday it was burning in chaparral and short grass exhibiting extreme fire behavior with crowning, torching, and spotting. According to Friday morning’s Situation Report the firefighting resources assigned include 2 hand crews and 10 engines for a total of 61 personnel.
The area is under a Red Flag Warning Friday from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. for 10 to 20 mph winds gusting to 35 mph, with relative humidity as low as 7 percent. A Fire Weather Watch is in effect Saturday afternoon and evening for similar conditions.