BLM reports small fire starts near Maybell, Dinosaur National Monument

Five small fires were discovered on BLM public land scattered between the Piceance Basin southwest of Meeker and south of Dinosaur National Monument in Moffat County Tuesday, the Bureau of Land Management reports.

More than 30 fires have started in Northwest Colorado since Sunday, which were started by lightning.

Lynn Barclay, public information officer at the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center, said there were 31 starts reported Sunday and Monday.

Barclay said fire crews contained the original fires before moving on to the new blazes.

As of Tuesday, Barclay said about two dozen fires had been contained.

The Yankee Gulch Fire located about 40 miles southwest of Meeker is the largest of the recent fires at 10 acres. Some torching of individual trees and spotting, which are embers blowing out ahead of the fire, was observed late Tuesday afternoon.

This fire is in a remote area on BLM public land bordered by old fire scars, Barclay said. There is a large amount of dead and down piñon and juniper trees in the area. This fire is being managed as a "use fire,"

allowing it to remove or clean up the vegetation that could act as fuel for fire.

The Blue Fire, located 17 miles west of Maybell, had little activity Tuesday and remained at four acres late Tuesday afternoon.

Barclay said recent weather patterns of sunny and warm days with thunderstorms moving through in the afternoons can cause fires to smolder in an area for days before flaring up into a noticeable blaze.

The BLM is warning area residents that recent rainfall and the green foliage of spring can be deceptive. Barclay said the number of fire incidents this year already have been greater than those of last year at this time, though the blazes have been smaller.

"There will be more fuel for more fires," Barclay said. "The juniper trees have not recovered from drought and we have standing and dead trees that are combustible. People shouldn't be fooled because of the green.

"We are approaching a turning point when a smaller fire can become a larger incident."

She said with all of the small fire starts, the area has been lucky that there has been little wind.

"That's what would drive a fire through piñon and juniper," Barclay said.

Barclay said officials in the southern portion of the state are talking about fire bans already.

"Especially in the southwest," Barclay said. "It seems to have been missed by all of the moisture."

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