Crews battle wildfire near I-70 at New Castle
UPDATE: According to a press release from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, the 102-acre fire had “laid down” by 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. Structures remain unthreatened and no evacuations are planned.
Efforts to contain the Hogback fire will continue throughout the Tuesday holiday.
“Crews will be working along the ridge of the Hogback to minimize the spread over the ridge and into the neighboring drainage area,” according to the press release.
The press release also states that “access along County Road 335 east of the New Castle City limits is limited to emergency personnel and residential traffic into the River Bend subdivision area.”
Monday’s efforts included multiple slurry drops and water bucket drops. More water drops are planned for Tuesday and single engine air tankers are available as well, “should the fire escalate during the warmer daytime temperatures with prevailing winds of the afternoon,” according to the press release.
The sheriff’s office reminds the public that the area is a no fly zone, which means drones are illegal.
“The appearance of a drone will ground all air fire fighting operations and the owner of the drone may be held responsible for any costs associated with the cease of operations as well as any damage caused by the spread of the fire after air operations are cancelled,” according to the press release.
Motorists are also urged not to stop to look at the fire as it creates a hazard.
Firefighters from multiple agencies were working into the night Monday to control a fire that broke out on the Grand Hogback just east of New Castle, on the south side of Interstate 70.
The fire started on the side of Garfield County Road 335 around 4:30 p.m. Monday and quickly burned up the steep slope.
The nearby River View Apartments were not threatened, but residents in the Riverbend Subdivision at the far east end of the county road were put on standby in case evacuations were necessary.
As of late Monday, the fire had burned about 100 acres and had pretty much topped out at the ridge.
“Crews will be monitoring it all night and are engaged in building a fire line,” the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Colorado River Fire Rescue spokeswoman Maria Piña said the fire started at the side of the road but that an official cause had not been determined.
Xcel Energy did cut power to the vicinity as a precaution for a period of time, and some power poles had burned in the fire, Piña said.
“The fire is on private land but threatens both state and BLM lands,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Ground crews included firefighters from CRFR, the Glenwood Springs Fire Department and the Utah-based Lone Peak Hotshots, which was diverted to the New Castle fire en route to another of the many wildfires burning in the region.
As of about 6 p.m. Monday, two helicopters, three air tankers and a scout plane were also deployed to the fire. Helicopters were pulling water from a nearby private containment pond and the Colorado River to douse the fire, Piña said.
Anyone not living in the area or involved with the firefighting efforts was asked to stay off 335 Road and the surrounding roads to allow emergency personnel adequate access to the fire area.
Safety concerns also arose as several motorists were stopped along I-70 watching the fire. Piña said motorists were being advised not to stop on the interstate.
Fire officials did not have an estimate on containment of the fire as of press time, but the blaze appeared to be under control late in the evening.
With hot and dry conditions and the potential for afternoon winds forecast for Tuesday, firefighters were planning to keep a close eye on the fire through the 4th of July holiday.
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