New fire north of Rifle grows to 400 acres
Post Independent Staff
The Brush Creek Fire burning north of Rifle grew to more than 400 acres by Friday afternoon in thick fuels on a ridge up Middle Rifle Creek above Puma Paw Ranch, according to public information officers for the fire.
The lightning-caused fire, which is about 3 miles northwest of the 500-acre Ward Gulch Fire that caused evacuations a week ago, is different in character than that fire, said Glenn Adams, information officer on the fire.
“It’s steeper, a little nastier country and more fuels,” he said, noting that fuels include not only the pinon-juniper similar to Ward Gulch but pine and fir as well.
The only structures in the area are a few unoccupied backcountry cabins, he said, and no evacuations are anticipated.
“Increased winds are causing some difficulty for firefighters establishing containment on the fire,” Christopher Joyner, a public affairs specialist for the Bureau of Land Management, wrote in a fire update. “Evening winds are now gusting 20 mph, contributing to some spotting ahead of the fire. There are 91 people currently assigned to this fire.”
The two crews and two helicopters battling the blaze Friday morning were trying to contain the fire on the ridge, Adams said earlier. The two crews on the fire, one from Washington and one California, transferred from Ward Gulch. One of the two light helicopters did as well.
A slurry bomber hit the fire earlier Friday morning, but Adams did not have details about how large it was or where it originated.
Wildland firefighting resources are spread thin in Colorado because of all the other fire activity in the region, Adams said. Reports indicate that much of the smoke in the air in Garfield County in recent days was from an 800-acre fire south of Rangely as well as fires in Utah and Arizona, and at least two large wildfires continue to threaten homes along Colorado’s Front Range.
Adams said this fire has the potential to grow to both to the east and west, though he suspects its ability to travel north is restricted by the fact that it will run into higher altitude vegetation that is greener and wetter.
Weather conditions are not expected to be favorable for firefighters this weekend. The forecast says a large area of low pressure in the Northwest this weekend is expected to produce “a strong southwest wind flow aloft over western Colorado and eastern Utah [with} very warm temperatures and low humidity…”
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