Lightning starts new fires as others contained

Lightning started two wildfires in northwest Colorado Tuesday afternoon as firefighters made progress against fires elsewhere in the state.

One of the new fires burned 100 acres about 15 miles south of Craig and was within a mile of a highway maintenance structure. The other was burning 15 miles east of Dinosaur National Monument, but officials did not know how large it was by Tuesday night. Neither fire was contained.

''The lightning show is very apparent up here,'' said Rusty Ruszin, of the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center. He said at least 100 lightning strikes were recorded in Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Two other lightning-caused fires were 80 percent contained Tuesday.

The Kellog fire about 12 miles northwest of Meeker had burned about 375 acres by Tuesday afternoon. The Deer Creek fire burning in steep, rocky terrain on a western escarpment of the Grand Mesa, 25 miles south of Grand Junction, had burned 126 acres.

A 120-acre wildfire was also burning in dead trees downed by a 1997 windstorm about 10 miles northeast of Steamboat Springs in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. No structures were threatened, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Dave Steinke.

Crews set small fires along containment lines to reduce the amount of fuel available to the wildfire, Ruszin said.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, reported half a dozen new fires started by lightning across Colorado. Crews with picks, shovels and water backs were hiking to the fires and putting them out before they could spread.

Counties with restrictions in place were Garfield, Montezuma, Teller, El Paso, Custer, Delta, Archuleta, Mesa, Eagle, Jefferson, Moffat and Boulder.

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