Firefighters brace for winds on Middle Mamm Fire | PostIndependent.com

Firefighters brace for winds on Middle Mamm Fire

More than 200 fire personnel are working the fire, which was first detected July 28 south of Rifle

A large air tanker drops a retardant line on a ridge on the northwest side of the Middle Mamm Fire Saturday afternoon. The fire grew to over 900 acres after wind fueled the blaze last Friday. Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram

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After the Middle Mamm fire broke containment lines last Friday due to persistent, gusting winds pushing fire north into Gant Gulch fire officials are taking precautions as more weather pushes into the area. 

A strong cold front headed for western Colorado has meteorologist anticipating high winds to arriving around press time Wednesday. Crews spent Tuesday reinforcing fire lines and reducing fuels to aid in the protection of private property and minimize the fire’s spread. 

“We had a drone incursion yesterday, on a day when firefighters were preparing for critical weather,” U.S. Forest Service public information officer Lynn Lockwood said.

Lockwood said the unauthorized drone halted work for a half-hour Tuesday afternoon when the weather was most stable.

“It is illegal, frustrating and dangerous, crews were unable to do their work in a time that was best to get their work done ahead of a critical fire day,” Lockwood said.

There was a slight increase in acreage on the fire between Tuesday and Wednesday Lockwood said.

A Red Flag Warning was issued Wednesday for high winds.  In anticipation of Wednesday’s change in weather, a Type 2 team, Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team Black, arrived to take over the management of the fire.

The transition from the local Type 3 team currently on scene to the Type 2 team occurred Wednesday.

The BLM announced Tuesday afternoon that they would close nearly 3,000 acres northeast of the fire with the pending weather front.

“We want to make sure folks know the area is closed due to the fire,” BLM Public Affairs Specialist David Boyd said.

Boyd said the closure came as meteorologists determined there would be high winds coming out of the southwest Wednesday.

With rifle hunting season opening Saturday, Boyd stressed that people should be alert when they head out, and check for updates.

kmills@postindependent.com

A dark plume of smoke rises from the Middle Mamm Fire as the fire advances north last Saturday in the Grant Gulch area outside of Rifle. Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram
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A tandem rotor helicopter moves into position to drop water on a hot spots on the north edge of the Middle Mamm fire south of Rifle Saturday. The type-1 firefighting helicopter caries a 800 gallon bucket to help in fire suppression efforts. Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram
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With the expansion of the Middle Mamm Fire auhtorities have closed Highway 319 at Shaeffer Road south of Rifle. Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram
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A lone white cross on a hilltop is flanked by the destruction of the Middle Mamm Fire South of Rifle. The fire which has been slowly burning erupted last weekend growing to over 900 acres. Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram
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