RIFLE — Crews have almost completely contained the Ward Gulch Fire burning northeast of Rifle near Rifle Falls State Park.
“We have a very good line all the way around it,” said chief fire information officer Pat Thrasher.
Officially, the fire is 95 percent contained, he said. The Type III crew that has been in command of the incident is scheduled to turn firefighting efforts over to local officials on Thursday if the lines continue to hold as expected.
The fire, which is burning on about 485 acres, was by far the largest of several fires started in the Rifle area by a lightning storm last Thursday. All the other fires were immediately snuffed out or were controlled within a day.
About 25 people were evacuated for the Ward Gulch Fire, and Colo. Highway 325 was closed from last Friday until late Monday because of the blaze.
At one time, some 300 people were involved in fighting the fire. About 208 of them were still here Tuesday, but many will be leaving as the fire winds down into its mop-up stage.
Officials said the cost of fighting the fire will exceed $1 million, which will be paid by the Bureau of Land Management, the agency responsible for managing the land where the fire is located.