Briefs for Sept. 3, 2011: Crews battle 8 new fires Thursday

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Fire crews fought eight new blazes reported Thursday in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit reported.

Lightning is believed to have ignited the blazes.

Crews worked into the evening Thursday to battle the fires, all of which are on Bureau of Land Management land. Six of the eight fires are contained.

The largest fire is Coal Creek Fire, burning five miles southwest of Elk Springs. It has consumed 65 acres and is 50 percent contained. The seven other fires are one acre or less.

A fire in the Irish Canyon area was expected to be fully contained by Friday evening.

The Ladore Fire — northwest of the Gates of Lodore in the Bureau of Land Management Diamond Breaks Wilderness Study Area — remains at 1,002 acres and is in monitor status.

No structures have been threatened in the fires, and no injuries have been reported.

Fire danger is high in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties.

Fire danger elevated due to conditions

Gov. John Hickenlooper and State Forester Jeff Jahnke are urging the public to take extra precautions to prevent wildfires over Labor Day weekend, according to a release from the governor’s office Friday.

A combination of prolonged hot weather — Colorado experienced the hottest August on state record — drying fuels and potential windy conditions over parts of Colorado for the next several days have fire forecasters expecting high fire danger in several parts of the state.

National Predictive Services expects the risk for large fires to be highest on the Western Slope over the weekend, according to the release.

A small gust of wind, a discarded cigarette from a car window or dry grass that comes in contact with a hot lawn mower, chain saw or car muffler can lead to wildfires, according to the release.

“The Fourmile Canyon Fire in Boulder County, which started on Labor Day last year, is a haunting reminder of the impacts wildfires can have on our natural resources and communities,” Hickenlooper said. “We hope everyone will join us in doing everything they can to avoid a similar scenario this holiday weekend.”

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