Photo by Collin Smith

Wildland fire contained

Firefighters gain control of flames after 2,200 acres of land scorches

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— A fire that began north of Craig, scorching 2,200 acres of land Monday, has been contained and controlled, Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said.

Jantz credits quick responses by the Baggs, Wyo., and Craig fire departments for preventing what could have been a much larger fire.

"The Baggs' and Moffat County crews did an incredible job," Jantz said during Tuesday's Moffat County commissioners meeting. "I don't know if we could have contained this fire without the quick response. Thank God for Baggs Fire (Department.)"

The fire, which burned on state trust lands between Colo. Highway 13 and Moffat County Road 101, was attacked by 24 firefighters from Craig, Baggs, the Bureau of Land Management and the Moffat County Sheriff's Office using 14 vehicles and two motor graders.

Two aerial drops were called in under a mutual aid agreement that allows for two fire retardant drops in the first 24 hours of a fire.

The first aerial drop protected a well drilling site and the second extinguished flames that had crossed County Road 101.

Winds that were strong and unpredictable Monday made containing the fire tougher than normal.

"This fire burned from Highway 13 east to Road 101, then shifting winds burned it back to Highway 13 again," commissioner Tom Mathers said. "They had the graders widen the road so the fire wouldn't jump it, then they cut a fire break through the sagebrush and contained it."

Nearby property owners at the scene questioned why more aerial drops were not used to quench the fire sooner, but commissioner Tom Gray said the rules in place for situations such as this were followed correctly.

"We did it just right," he said about the firefighting efforts. "Open range fires that are contained don't receive more aerial retardant. It gets really expensive to call in more runs by the airplanes."

Jantz said crews on the fire did an "outstanding" job Monday, and they were on the perimeter Tuesday conducting mop-up operations and watching for flare-ups.

Fire restrictions in Moffat County on private and state land are expected to remain in place until Labor Day, despite plans to lift the ban in Dinosaur National Monument and the Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday.

BLM field offices in Kremmling, Little Snake and White River management areas also will lift fire restrictions on BLM land Wednesday. Fire bans also end Wednesday for Routt, Jackson, Grand and Rio Blanco counties.

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