Knez Wildfire flares up over weekend in Moffat County
“They (Craig Fire/Rescue firefighters) were there all night Friday looking for hotspots and they did a really good job. Then, poof, it flared back up Saturday. The flames were worse (Saturday) than the day before and it was moving.”
— Robin Hamill, Moffat County resident, on the Knez wildfire and Craig Fire/Rescue’s response
The Knez Wildfire, which was ignited Friday night by a lightning strike, flared Saturday, burning two more acres about 10 miles south of Craig off Knez Divide Road.
The total number of acres burned stands at four.
Moffat County resident Robin Hamill said the fire began Friday night on land her family leases from Trapper Mine to raise cattle.
On Saturday, she was helping the family install a water line to residences and hunting cabins west of Friday’s wildfire site when she smelled smoke.
“They (Craig Fire/Rescue firefighters) were there all night Friday looking for hotspots and they did a really good job,” Hamill said. “Then, poof, it flared back up Saturday. The flames were worse (Saturday) than the day before and it was moving.
“I don’t know much about fire behavior, but you could hear it, it was loud.”
Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Bill Johnston said he deployed an engine to the wildfire site early Saturday morning. A flare up occurred when firefighters arrived on scene, but they suppressed it quickly.
When the smoke report was called in at 2 p.m., two Craig engines responded.
Upon arrival, firefighters found the fire had reignited on what was believed to be a cold flank and was running west.
Two bulldozers from Trapper Mine were called to the scene to construct a perimeter.
“When this fire started moving west it got into some pretty thick oak brush and there were some pretty tall flames,” Johnston said. “I have to give a special thanks to Trapper Mine because putting a wide perimeter around the fire made me feel a lot better.”
Johnston said he called the Bureau of Land Management at one point to find out what resources were available if the fire become too great for his department to handle.
BLM dispatchers said none were available.
“I’m not trying to make that sound negative, but I just want to heighten everyone’s awareness that firefighting resources are spread thin all over Northwest Colorado,” Johnston said. “Had there been structures threatened, I’m sure they would have reprioritized, but people need to know we’re stretched to the max.”
On Sunday morning, Johnston took a drive out to the site of the Knez wildfire to inspect it personally. He said it looked “cold.”
Thirty-four cows belonging to the Hamills that were missing Friday also were located.
“They moved north toward Craig, but came running down the road when the fire flared up Saturday,” Hamill said. “So everything is good. The fire is out, the cows are back and hopefully we don’t have any more hot spots.”