Containment efforts continue on 4 Northwest Colorado fires | CraigDailyPress.com

Containment efforts continue on 4 Northwest Colorado fires

Lauren Blair

Firefighters reached 40-percent containment Sunday on the 12,833-acre Peekaboo Fire in northwest Moffat County, pictured here. As of Monday evening, the Mill Creek fire remained at 484 acres and 55 percent contained and two smaller fires in Rio Blanco County, the 300-acre Wilson Fire and 70-acre Deer Gulch Fire, were 15- and 10-percent contained, respectively.

More than 600 personnel are fighting four fires in Northwest Colorado spanning Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties.

While progress is being made on the two largest and longest-burning fires, the nearly 12,833-acre Peekaboo Fire and the 484-acre Mill Creek Fire, crews still have a long way to go to full containment, with two additional fires that started north of Meeker over the weekend.

Peekaboo Fire

The Peekaboo Fire — burning north of Colorado Highway 318 and Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge and flanked on its eastern edge by Moffat County Road 10N — reached 40-percent containment by Sunday evening, despite increased fire activity on the northeast corner of the fire Sunday afternoon, according to InciWeb.

"Things are going very well, so I expect that (containment) figure to go up tomorrow," said Peekabo Fire Information Officer Lynn Lockwood.

Crews managed to build and secure containment lines on sections of the fire's eastern end. The far eastern perimeter has burned into steep, rocky ground with sparse fuels, and firefighters expect to make progress on the uncontained portions in coming days.

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Afternoon storms stirred up strong, gusty winds Monday, but they didn't seem to have a dramatic affect on fire activity, Lockwood said.

"I think it's just trying to wind down over there," she said.

The Peekaboo Fire is burning on mostly Bureau of Land Management land and is now being managed by Rocky Mountain Incident Team Black. Crews are seeking full suppression to protect private residences along Highway 318 and Moffat County Road 34, as well as to protect primary sage grouse habitat, historical structures at Pablo and Matt Springs and cultural sites in Irish Canyon.

Mill Creek Fire

The human-caused Mill Creek Fire continues to creep towards containment in Routt County, 13 miles northeast of Hayden, burning heavy timber on mostly private land near California Park.

Crews reached 55 percent containment Sunday by using indirect and natural barriers to prevent any fire spread to the north and east, according to InciWeb. Crews are also already beginning mop up.

No structures are directly threatened. Routt County Emergency Management has requested traffic be limited to the area due to the high volume of fire apparatus on Routt County Road 80.

The fire began when a landowner hired someone to build a fire break, and a tree fell on the bulldozer, which then caught on fire.

Wilson and Deer Gulch fires

The 300-acre Wilson Fire, burning nine miles north of Meeker, and the 70-acre Deer Gulch Fire, burning about 20 miles south of Meeker, began Friday and Saturday respectively. Both fires are burning on a combination of BLM and private land, and no structures are threatened.

Crews promptly constructed firelines around the eastern side of the lightning-caused Wilson Fire Sunday and then conducted burnout operations Monday, according to InciWeb, causing visible smoke in Meeker.

"Burnout operations are often a critical part of fire operations. Firefighters set a fire inside a control line to consume the vegetation between the edge of the fire and the control line they’ve prepared," an update posted to InciWeb Monday explained.

"When the fire reaches the area where the burnable vegetation has been removed, it often will decrease in intensity and speed due to the lack of available fuel," the update said.

A type 3 incident management team is overseeing efforts on both fires, with most of the focus on the Wilson Fire.

Stage 1 fire restrictions went into effect Friday in Rio Blanco, Summit and Eagle counties, meaning campfires can only be burned in designated fire grates in developed campgrounds. Rock campfire rings are not considered acceptable, and fires are prohibited outside developed areas.

The restrictions also limit where smoking is allowed, and restrict welding activities and the operation of internal combustion engines.

Peekaboo Fire, Moffat County

Location: 44 miles northwest of Maybell

Acres: 12,833 as of Monday morning

Containment: 40 percent

Personnel: 325

Cause: Lightning

Start date: June 27

Burning in: Cheatgrass, juniper

 

Mill Creek Fire, Routt County

Location: 13 miles northeast of Hayden

Acres: 484 acres

Containment: 55 percent

Personnel: 135

Cause: Human

Start date: July 1

Burning in: Heavy timber

 

Wilson Fire, Rio Blanco County

Location: Nine miles north of Meeker

Acres: 300 as of Monday morning

Containment: 15 percent

Personnel: 146

Cause: Lightning

Start date: Friday

 

Deer Gulch Fire, Rio Blanco County

Location: 20 miles south of Meeker

Acres: 70 as of Sunday

Containment: 10 percent

Personnel: 40

Start date: Saturday

Burning in: Gambel oak, pinion and juniper