Containment lost on Cache Creek, Cabin Lake fires
Federal firefighters lost containment on two wildfires burning west and northwest of Glenwood Springs, as both grew in acreage when winds blew them over established fire lines.
According to fire managers on the Cache Creek Fire southwest of Rifle, crews worked throughout the day Monday to contain the spot fire that started Sunday evening in the Cache Creek drainage.
The fire burning 8 miles southwest of Rifle near Battlement Creek Road increased in acreage from a little over 1,700 acres on Sunday to 2,500 acres as of the last official report sent out Tuesday morning. Containment decreased from 60 percent Sunday to 40 percent as of Tuesday.
Late Monday, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office implemented a pre-evacuation notice for six structures near the fire, but no structures have been lost.
Helicopters dropped water Monday and Tuesday to cool the fire’s edge so crews and dozers could work to build a new containment line, according to the Tuesday update.
Monday afternoon, outflow winds from a storm caused the fire to spot on in a bowl east of Battlement Reservoir Road and produced a large smoke column. An evening rain storm over the fire slowed fire activity and the column dissipated, with heavy smoke settled into the upper valley areas, including Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.
Meanwhile, the Cabin Lake Fire burning near the Buford Road several miles north of New Castle in southern Rio Blanco County grew to 3,700 acres Tuesday forcing additional evacuations. Containment decreased on the fire to 35 percent, according to the federal Inciweb fire information website.
“The fire is experiencing extreme fire conditions due to dry fuels and gusting 45 mph outflow winds from thunderstorm cells in the area,” according to a Tuesday evening update from fire managers. “This is driving the visible smoke column, which stood over 23,000 feet high earlier this evening.”
Smoke from the Cabin Lake Fire is visible as far away as Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin and Routt Counties.
Late Tuesday, the Rio Blanco County Sheriff issued a mandatory evacuation for all residents along County Road 10 south from the County Road 17 intersection (also known as the South Fork drainage). A road block was in effect at this intersection. Residents in the area south of South Fork Road toward Burro Mountain southwest of County Road 10 also remain under mandatory evacuation, and a pre-evacuation warning for County Road 17 remains in effect.
Following a series of weather events that blew the fire over containment lines to the north, evacuations were ordered for some structures south of South Fork Road. No structures have been lost to the fire.
“Weather, coupled with fire activity and the dry, heavy fuel conditions resulted in the need for firefighters to reassess tactics on some locations of the fire,” according to the latest update from fire managers.