Crews work to contain small fire burning along Buford Road |

Crews work to contain small fire burning along Buford Road

A firefighter works to control the Clark Creek Fire burning in the Flat Tops near the Buford Road north of Rifle.
Bernie Boettcher |

Firefighting crews were working Monday to control two fires burning on the White River National Forest, one north of Rifle and the other near Kremmling.

The Clark Creek Fire, located approximately 14 miles north of Rifle along the Buford Road in the Triangle Park area and caused by lightning, was burning on about 5 acres in mixed conifer in a remote part of the forest. Forest Road 245 that runs between West Elk Creek and Buford remained open.

The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit is working to suppress the fire. Four Forest Service engines, one fire crew, one law enforcement officer and one helicopter were on scene Monday, and an additional helicopter was on order.

A private reservoir in the area was being used so that the helicopter could conduct water drops onto the fire, according to Forest Service officials.

“Firefighter and public safety are our highest priority,” Karen Schroyer, agency administrator for the fire, said in a news release issued Monday afternoon.

“We know this is a popular area for camping and other recreation,” she said. “No roads are currently closed, but we are asking recreationists to stay clear of the area so firefighters are able to do their work.”

The fire prompted the evacuation of some dispersed campsites on Sunday evening when it broke out. No developed campgrounds or structures were threatened, Schroyer said.

Smoke may be visible from the east side of the fire, with smoke possibly settling into the Colorado River Valley overnight, she said.

“We do anticipate hot and dry conditions for the next several days, so this is a fire we will be keeping an eye on,” Schroyer said.

Meanwhile, firefighters and air resources continued their efforts to suppress the Gutzler Fire, burning between Kremmling and State Bridge, as terrain and conditions allow.

After a flyover Monday morning, forest officials adjusted the size of the fire to 97 acres, down from the original estimate Sunday night of about 200 to 250 acres.

That fire is burning in mixed conifer and beetle kill, with isolated torching and spotting, District Ranger Aaron Mayville said in a release.

“The fire is burning in beetle-killed timber, so our highest priority is firefighter safety,” she said. “Finding areas where we can safely engage this fire will really guide our suppression strategy moving forward.”

One residence and several ranch structures located a mile east of the fire are being monitored and patrolled by engines. The structures are surrounded by irrigated pasture land.

Air attack continues to work the fire with water bucket drops.

Incident command is at Radium Recreation Area/Campground, which the Bureau of Land Management has decided to close while firefighting efforts are underway.

Fire resources included eight smokejumpers, one Type 3 helicopter and two engines. Four hand crews were expected to arrive Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning, and two single-engine air tankers are available if needed.

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