Craig Three fires continued to burn in western Moffat County on Friday, but no structures or people are expected to be threatened after a busy 24 hours of battling fires in Northwest Colorado that began Thursday afternoon.
The Wild fire and Hacking fire ignited Thursday on Wild Mountain in the western part of the Dinosaur National Monument and have burned an estimated 362 and 10 acres, respectively, as of late Friday, according to a news release from monument officials.
The Wild fire had burned about 120 acres as of Friday morning, but is in a remote area and being managed by the agency for the “benefits fire provides to the monument’s natural resources,” according to the release.
Dan Johnson, the monument’s chief of interpretation, said because it was a natural fire resulting from a lightning strike, the fire is being allowed to burn under a close eye.
"This is a natural part of the ecosystem. Because of where it's located, because of all the different prescriptions around this fire and because it occurred naturally, we are allowing it to burn," Johnson said. "It's not one of those fires that's going to suddenly explode and jump from one ridge to another. It's going to kind of smolder and burn up the smaller bushes and grass in the area and allow for nutrients to get back into the soil and help revitalize."
A third fire, in the Limestone Ridge area of the monument, was identified and would be suppressed, the release said. The fire did not have a name as of Friday evening.
Three other fires occurred after lightning strikes on the monument, part of 13 relatively small fires that ignited in Northwest Colorado on Thursday.
Six of the fires were in western Moffat County on Bureau of Land Management land. Five more, including the two that have not been contained, started in Dinosaur National Monument. One fire was on private land in western Moffat County, and the other broke out in Routt National Forest on the Mad Creek Trail, according to a news release from the BLM Little Snake Field Office.
All but one of the fires were caused by lightning and most were less than one acre in size, said Lynn Barclay, public information officer for the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit. The Mad Creek fire in Routt County’s cause still was under investigation Friday.
There was no structure damage and no injuries reported from any fire.
A helicopter was assisting crews Friday on the Wild Fire. Crews also returned to the contained fires in an effort to prevent holdover fires, which are reignited fires that can happen after days of smoldering.
Current conditions on the ground could have helped keep some of the fires from spreading quickly, Barclay said.
“The pinon and juniper trees we have here are dry and receptive to fire,” Barclay said. “The sage brush and grass still have some moisture. Fire spread in sage brush and grass will be more moderate, but those are drying out quickly.”
The Bureau of Land Management, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, Dinosaur National Monument, Browns Park Wildlife Refuge and the Maybell Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fires. The one fire that did not originate from lightning, on the Mad Creek Trail in Routt County, was under investigation Friday.
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 email@example.com.