Fire breaks out at monument

PiRidge blaze doubles in size Thursday; containment prediction pushed back two days

Advertisement

A wildfire that has been burning all week northwest of Meeker doubled in size Thursday, while another 2,000-acre fire broke out in Dinosaur National Monument.

The PiRidge fire, burning 28 miles northwest of Meeker, grew to 2,300 acres Thursday after being contained to 1,200 acres Wednesday.

Diann Pipher, fire information officer with the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center, said wind gusts of 30 mph Thursday caused the spread of the PiRidge fire.

About 161 people are fighting the blaze and an additional aircraft was to be flown in to dump water on it today, Pipher said.

One helicopter was already being used to dump water on the fire Thursday.

Allen Chrisman, commander of the Type II team from Idaho brought in to fight the fire, said firefighters thought they were getting close to containment until Thursday.

"Before yesterday the fire was lying around waiting for us to put it out," he said Friday morning from a temporary base camp set up at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely. "We didn't have the helicopter we needed to dump water and the fire decided it had laid around long enough."

Containment for the fire was projected to be Saturday, but that has been pushed back to Monday due to the rough day Thursday.

Reaching that containment goal depends on today's conditions, Chrisman said.

"We expect the same conditions today with the humidity dropping down to 10 percent," he said. "We will probably have to pull back again. It's going to take in some more acres but we hope to hold it in place."

Monday containment is possible, he said.

"We probably have better than a 50 percent chance of having it contained," he said. "It all depends on what happens today."

About eight crews and six engines are on the fire, Chrisman said.

Resources are sufficient, he said, but the focus is still on other fires burning in other parts of the state.

"We're fairly low priority because there are no communities or structures nearby," he said.

Authorities at Dinosaur National Monument are still investigating the cause of a 2,000-acre fire burning near the east entrance of the park in Northwest Moffat County.

Projected containment for the Dinosaur fire is also Monday, said Bruce Fields, fire management officer for Dinosaur National Monument. About 50 people are fighting the fire, including a Type III team from California and a Type II team from North Dakota.

Fields said the Yampa Bench Road at the east end of the park is closed, but the rest of the park is open for visitors this weekend.

No structures are in danger and no cattle is grazing in the area in which the fire is burning, Fields said.

A fire ban has been in place at Dinosaur National Monument for about three weeks, and Fields said visitors are warned that fire danger is extreme throughout the monument.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.