PiFire grows overnight


The PiRidge fire, burning 28 miles northwest of Meeker, grew about 400 acres Tuesday and is now threatening two homes.

"What's driving the fire behavior right now is the extended drought," said Jim Andersen, the incident commander with the Type III team that was just replaced in fighting the fire Tuesday by a Type II team. "What we have is live vegetation and dead fuels. Right now the live vegetation is even drier making it more volatile to fires."

There are three levels of wildfire fighting teams, with Type I teams taking on the most serious of blazes.

The Type II Team brought in Tuesday is from northern Idaho.

According to a report released by the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center, there are 66 people fighting the fire and they have it 25 percent contained.

The PiRidge fire has been burning since Saturday and was caused by lightning Friday night, officials said.

At the end of the day Tuesday the fire was burning 1,850 acres of land in the area, up from 1,450 acres reported Monday.

Andersen said winds were not a significant factor in the fire's spread Tuesday.

"It's being driven by steep slopes in the area and extremely dry weather and low humidity," he said. "There is a longer burning period during the day right now. Yesterday we had active fire from 8:30 a.m. to after dark."

Usually the flare-ups don't occur until around noon, he said.

Firefighters are using the White River as the water source to fight the fire, Andersen said.

"We're trying to avoid using stock ponds," he said. "We're making a conscious effort not to add to the problem."

Firefighters battled three other fires in Northwest Colorado Tuesday.

Two were contained and one is still burning.

The Brushy Point fire, which burned 30 acres 18 miles southeast of Rangely, and the Spring Creek Fire, which burned 18.5 acres five miles east of Rangely, were both contained on Tuesday.

The Black's Gulch fire, burning 13 miles east of Meeker, is still burning and has consumed about 15 acres.

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