UPDATE: Cache Creek Fire grows to 200 acres; access challenging
The Cache Creek Fire southwest of Rifle grew to an estimated 200 acres on Monday, as crews and aerial resources are being used to suppress a wildfire burning in heavy dead and downed fuels on Forest Service lands in Garfield County.
The fire is burning about 8 miles southwest of Rifle in steep and rugged terrain making access for firefighters challenging, according to a Monday afternoon update from the White River National Forest incident command.
“Crews are working to establish safe anchor points from which to build fire line to prevent spread toward values at risk,” the Forest Service press release states. “[On Sunday] air resources concentrated efforts on the east and north flanks using a water-enhancing gel and water drops to check the spread of the fire.”
While not threatened at this time, structures on private land and private oil and gas infrastructure are located about two miles east and north of the fire. Those area remain a concern for fire personnel.
“Firefighters will continue to work closely to coordinate with landowners and oil and gas companies in the area,” states the press release.
As of Monday, two engines, two Type 2 hand crews, and two Type 1 helicopters are working to suppress the fire. Helicopters are conducting water dips at Battlement Mesa Reservoir, and forest users are asked to avoid the area while suppression operations take place.
A new fire information phone number has been established for the public to call. The number is 970-984-8839.
Due to growing complexity, location, and size, a more-intensive type 2 incident management team has been ordered for the Cache Creek Fire. A transition is expected to occur within the next few days, according to the press release.
Forest Service spokeswoman Kate Jerman said the team will not be the one currently working the Lake Christine Fire near Basalt, which is expected to be released from that fire later this week.
“We decide teams based on availability and proximity,” she said. “Prior to fire season, the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center, located in Denver, sets a team rotation schedule regionally. Team placement on a fire depends on which team is up next on the rotation and if they are available.
“If our regional teams are unavailable or already committed to another fire, the RMACC looks for other teams available outside of our immediate region,” she said.
The Cache Creek Fire was initially called in at approximately 8:30 p.m. Saturday, and a cause has not yet been determined.
“Due to lack of visibility, crews began suppression operations on the fire early [Sunday] morning,” according to the release.
On Sunday, air resources concentrated efforts on the east and north flanks using a water-enhancing gel and water drops to check the spread of the fire, according to fire management officials.
An Inciweb page has been established for the fire at: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6052/.
Motorists should expect smoke to be visible from the Interstate 70 corridor near Rifle, Parachute and Rulison, and should not call 911.
For more information on how smoke may affect your health visit: https://www.colorado.gov/airquality/colo_advisory.aspx .
Due to aerial operations, drones are strictly prohibited in the area, the Forest Service advised.
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Natural gas production in Battlement Mesa hit a new milestone this week.