Lightning likely cause of wildfire |

Lightning likely cause of wildfire

Dennis Webb
Post Independent Staff
Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson

Forty more firefighters were due on the scene today after a wildfire broke out Friday night southwest of New Castle and grew to cover from seven to 10 acres.

The fire originated on private land on Jolley Mesa, said Stephanie Brown, manager of the Grand Junction Air Center, which is coordinating firefighting efforts. The fire reportedly reached U.S. Bureau of Land Management property.

The cause of the blaze was unknown as of Friday, but a lightning strike is presumed responsible, Brown said. A lightning storm hit parts of Garfield County late Friday afternoon.

No structures had been lost, and none were immediately threatened, Brown said. Also, no injuries were reported.

Federal agencies were fighting the fire in cooperation with the Burning Mountains Fire Protection District and Garfield County Sheriff’s Office. Ground equipment included five local engines and tenders, and three federal engines and a 20-person federal crew. Brown said authorities also have ordered up 20-person state and Hotshot crews that are scheduled to arrive this morning.

A helicopter and single-engine air tanker also fought the fire Friday evening until dark, with another aircraft supervising the airspace, Brown said.

The fire’s smoke was visible from Glenwood Springs. After dark, flames from the fire on the mesa top were clearly visible from the Interstate 70 corridor west of New Castle. The smoke provided for an orange-colored moonrise over the mesa top for viewers looking from west of the fire. Brown said it was unclear as of mid-evening Friday what success firefighters were having controlling the blaze.

“They’re still fighting it, so it’s kind of hard to say at this point,” she said.

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