Crews battle wildfire near Rulison |

Crews battle wildfire near Rulison

G. Sean Kelly
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

RULISON ” Fire crews were in structure-protection mode while battling a wildfire between Rulison and Rifle Friday evening.

Early reports had three structures burned, including a home, but officials amended that report and said shortly after midnight Friday that no homes had burned.

Rifle Fire Department spokesman Lee Martens estimates that 100-150 homes are at risk and said the Rulison, Spruce Creek and Red Apple areas had been evacuated. No evacuation site or other information was available at press time.

“There isn’t a good place for (the fire) to go,” said Martens, referring to the number of homes surrounding the fire. “It’s a bad place for a fire.”

The fire was reported midafternoon Friday, burning between County Roads 309 and 301, and was generally moving east Friday night.

“It seems to be a semifast moving fire that’s fingering out,” Martens said.

More than 100 firefighters were on the fire line, including two Hot Shot teams and firefighters from fire departments from Parachute to Basalt to Gypsum providing mutual aid. A heavy air tanker, which is capable of dropping up to 2,500 gallons of fire retardant, and three single-engine air tankers, along with two helicopters were battling the flames, said Lee Ann Loupe, spokeswoman for the federal Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management.

Martens said, judging from the smoke, the fire was “laying down for the night” at approximately 9 p.m., but ground crews would remain out for structure protection.

“They will definitely be on station all night long to protect stuff,” he said.

There are also a number of gas wells in the area, but Martens said “they are going to protect the structures before the gas wells.” He also pointed out that it’s standard procedure for the crews manning the wells to turn the gas wells off prior to evacuating the well pads.

The winds cooperated somewhat in fighting the blaze Friday afternoon, according to Martens, with no particularly large gusts into the evening.

“We are lucky that the winds have not come up ” lucky that we don’t have any heavy winds,” he said. “It’s blowing it enough for the winds to cause us some trouble, but we’re lucky there’s no heavy winds blowing it.”

Martens didn’t have an estimate on the size of the fire, but Rifle Fire Department operations chief Kevin Costanzo had guessed late Friday afternoon that it was around 100 acres.

Lightning that moved through the area Thursday night is among the possible causes of the fire, according to Costanzo.

The fire is close to the 65-acre Gray Barn Fire that started June 26 and the Red Apple Fire that burned 800 acres in 2006.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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