Pine Gulch Fire north of Grand Junction grows to nearly 12,000 Acres

August 6, 2020 | 1:43 p.m.  MDT

Pyrocumulus clouds form over the Pine Gulch Fire
Pyrocumulus clouds form over the Pine Gulch Fire north of Grand Junction, Colorado, August 5, 2020. Photo by Jennifer Deering.

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.

Map Pine Gulch Fire Grand Junction Colorado
Map of the Pine Gulch Fire at 9:31 p.m. MDT August 5, 2020.

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 making progress on Elephant Butte Fire near Evergreen, Colorado

Elephant Butte Fire July 13, 2020 Jason Hamburg
The Elephant Butte Fire, July 13, 2020. Photo by Jason Hamburg, park ranger with Jefferson County Open Space. It was taken from his fire lookout position on Jenkins Peak, looking south toward Elephant Butte.

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.

At 5 p.m. some, but not all, evacuation orders were lifted. They are hoping the cooler weather Tuesday is going to help them reach more containment.

Jason Hamburg who took the photo above, also shot the video below.

Elephant Butte Fire near Evergreen, Colorado prompts evacuations

Residents of 1,000 homes ordered to evacuate

Elephant Butte Fire map
Map showing the location of the Elephant Butte Fire about two miles northwest of Evergreen, Colorado.

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.

Elephant Butte Fire July 13, 2020
Elephant Butte Fire July 13, 2020. JEFFCO Sheriff photo.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean and LM. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Chatridge 2 Fire burns over 400 acres south of Denver

In Douglas County

(UPDATED at 3:41 p.m. MDT June 30, 2020)

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. 

Tankers 22 (a P-3, N922AU) and 02 (a BAe-146, NJ474NA)
Tankers 02 (left, a BAe-146, N474NA) and T-22 (a P-3, N922AU) were working the Chatridge 2 Fire and reloading at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (Jeffco) 6-29-2020. Shane Hervey photo.

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)

Chatridge 2 Fire Denver map
Map showing the location of the Chatridge 2 Fire south of Denver, 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.

Chatridge 2 fire
Chatridge 2 Fire. Photo by Jason Mowry @jmowry11 at 2:05 p.m. MDT June 29, 2020.

(UPDATED at 4:27 p.m. MDT June 29, 2020)

Map Chatridge 2 Fire
Map of the Chatridge 2 Fire produced by Colorado’s Multi-Mission Aircraft.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Cherry Canyon Fire in southeast Colorado grows to nearly 12,000 acres

The wildfire is 58 miles east-northeast of Trinidad

Cherry Canyon Fire Colorado
Cherry Canyon Fire, courtesy of Colorado Fire Prevention & Control

(UPDATED at 11:43 p.m. MDT May 24, 2020)

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.

Cherry Canyon Fire Colorado map

Cherry Canyon Fire Colorado map
Map showing heat on the Cherry Canyon Fire detected by satellites. Heat was sensed somewhere within each of the circles. The actual perimeter is slightly smaller than the white line seen on the map. All locations are approximate.

(UPDATED at 11:28 a.m. MDT May 23, 2020)

Cherry Canyon Fire wildfire Colorado
Cherry Canyon Fire, courtesy of Colorado Fire Prevention & Control

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.

Map Vicinity Cherry Canyon Fire
Vicinity map of the Cherry Canyon Fire in southeast Colorado.
Cherry Canyon Fire wildfire Colorado map
Map of the Cherry Canyon Fire showing heat detected by satellites as late as 3:24 a.m. MDT May 23, 2020.
Cherry Canyon Fire wildfire Colorado
Helicopter 58HJ with Cañon Helitack got assigned to the Cherry Canyon Fire near Kim, Colorado shortly after it became available for the fire season. Photo by @getoutgetmoving
Cherry Canyon Fire wildfire Colorado
Cherry Canyon Fire, courtesy of Colorado Fire Prevention & Control
Cherry Canyon Fire wildfire Colorado
Cherry Canyon Fire, courtesy of Colorado Fire Prevention & Control

Cherry Canyon Fire in Colorado made an impressive run Thursday

It has burned over 7,300 acres in the southeast part of the state near Kim

Cherry Canyon Fire Colorado
Cherry Canyon Fire as seen from about 10 miles south of La Junta, Colorado. Photo by Otero County Sheriff, May 20, 2020.

(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.

Map Vicinity Cherry Canyon Fire
Vicinity map of the Cherry Canyon Fire in southeast Colorado.
Map of the Cherry Canyon Fire
Map of the Cherry Canyon Fire showing heat detected by satellites as late as 2:54 a.m. MDT May 22, 2020.
Cherry Canyon Fire Colorado
Cherry Canyon Fire. Photo by Colorado Fire Prevention & Control.