Greaswood blaze grows to 6,800 acres

A fire 40 miles west of Craig grew to 30 acres and a fire 13 miles west of Meeker grew to 6,800 acres Wednesday.

The Cross Fire in Moffat County ignited during a lightning storm in the Cross Mountain Wilderness Study Area last Thursday, said Diann Ritschard, a fire information officer with the Forest Service.

A Bureau of Land Management crew with one engine is managing that fire for confinement to ensure it doesn't grow any bigger, Ritschard said. The fire was not threatening any structures as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Last Thursday's lightning also ignited three single-tree fires in Moffat County that quickly were extinguished.

The Greasewood Fire in Rio Blanco County also was a result of Thursday's lightning. The fire is the cause of the ashes falling on Craig.

The Greasewood Fire was thought to be 2,500 acres Tuesday afternoon and was measured at 6,800 Wednesday afternoon. The fire is being managed as a fire-use fire, meaning it's burning an area that fire managers predetermined should be allowed to burn naturally in certain conditions, Ritschard said.

"The fire will reduce dead fuel and improve wildlife habitat. ... This is the way nature rejuvenates land," Ritschard said.

Management of the fire will be turned over to a 10-member fire-use team this morning. Based on the weather, that crew will decide how to continue managing the fire. But it could grow several thousand more acres and still be managed for fire use, Ritschard said.

The fire has been moving northeast. A few hundred acres in the Piceance Creek State Recreation Area burned in the fire.

The fire destroyed 34 single-line power poles, but the White River Electric Association restored power through a secondary line. Fire fuels around a small power line are being cleared with a bulldozer and roll-chopper, a machine pulled behind the bulldozer that hacks down sagebrush and shrubs.

No homes are yet endangered by the Greasewood Fire, Ritschard said.

Today is a red-flag day, meaning the high wind and heat and low relative humidity create dangerous fire conditions, Ritschard said.

"It remains hot and dry and what little moisture did come down was wicked away by the wind," she said,

Ritschard urged everyone to be careful.

"A little spark or a cigarette butt can turn into a big fire in a hurry. As far as campfires go, if you can get along without one, don't build one," she said.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.