Daytime fire weather watch in Northwest Colorado until Sept. 13
CRAIG — Critical fire conditions are forecast to develop in the region through Thursday, Sept. 13, as dry, windy conditions develop.
The warning, issued by the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, is in effect from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. each day “as the area remains sandwiched between a low-pressure trough over the Pacific Northwest and a ridge of high pressure over Texas.”
The warning comes as fires continued to burn in Colorado. As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center reported responding to 190 fires, 86 smoke checks, and five false alarms. Most fires have been small, less than one acre, and quickly suppressed.
The Bender Mountain Fire burning near the Three Corners — a remote area of northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado — produced a column of smoke Monday that was visible for a substantial distance and apparently alarmed some members of the public, according to Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Geoff Liesik.
He added that the smoke column was caused, in part, by planned firing operations carried out by firefighters to add depth to established containment lines.
Unburned pockets of timber and other fuels inside the fire perimeter have ignited, producing more smoke and increasing the likelihood that the fire will continue to produce additional smoke until the area receives significant rain or snowfall.
“This is normal and is not cause for concern,” Liesi said.
The Bender Mountain Fire was reported Sept. 2 about 17 miles northeast of Dutch John, Utah. It is being investigated as a human-caused fire, however arson is not suspected.
“There are many reasons a fire might be started by someone but not considered arson. While this fire was human-caused, it does not appear to have been arson,” said fire spokesman Geoff Liesik.
Liesik also said the Bender Mountain fire is unrelated to recent fires along Utah highways and Interstate 80, which are suspected to have been caused by arson.
“The fire is about 65 miles south of the I-80 corridor and about 20 miles east of U.S. Highway 191 in a remote area near the Three Corners,” Liesik said.
The fire, which has burned 4,112 acres, is 75 percent contained and is being managed as a Type 4 incident. There are two firefighting crews, three engines, and an air attack plane assigned to the fire, for a total of more than 50 personnel.
No injuries to humans or livestock have been reported. No evacuations have been ordered, and no structures are threatened. All roads in the vicinity remained open as of Friday evening.
Agencies responding to the Bender Mountain Fire included firefighters from the BLM in Rock Springs, the Rock Springs Fire Department, and the Sweetwater County Fire Department, all from Wyoming, in addition to crews from Utah and Colorado.
Other large fires in the area include Cabin Lake Fire, which has burned 5,975 acres near Buford and was 98-percent contained on Tuesday. The Silver Creek Fire has burned 5,008 acres near Gore Pass southeast of Steamboat Springs and was 78-percent contained Tuesday. The 2,703-acre Cache Creek Fire is burning near Rifle and was reported as 55-percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon.
Moffat County and the city of Craig continue to be under Stage 1 Fire Restriction. Other counties and state and federal jurisdictions have downgraded their fire restriction status and are advising the public to check with local offices about applicable restrictions.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.
Local land managers have proposed allowing the public to rent out Sarvis Cabin on the banks of the Yampa River just below Stagecoach Reservoir.