Fire 60 percent contained |

Fire 60 percent contained

Additional crews, helicopter help firefighters get upper hand

Josh Nichols

The PiRidge fire burning 28 miles northwest of Meeker is 60 percent contained, according to the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center.

Prior to firefighters’ success battling the fire Wednesday, the 1,200-acre blaze had grown to 1,850 acres Tuesday.

Diann Pipher, fire information officer with the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center, said an increased amount of resources thrown at the fire Wednesday contributed to the success.

“The incident management team, additional crews and a helicopter dropping water helped a lot,” she said.

A Type II incident management team from north Idaho replaced a local Type III team Tuesday that had been fighting the fire since Saturday.

Full containment of the fire is expected by Saturday, the dispatch center reported.

A small helicopter dropped water on the fire Wednesday afternoon and a larger helicopter was supposed to drop water today.

Two homes were in danger prior to Wednesday, but the dispatch center reported that no structures were in danger today.

County Road 77 and BLM road 1509 are closed to the public and are being used by fire engines to access the fire.

While fire crews seemingly have the PiRidge Fire under control, Pipher said more fire can be expected this summer.

“In Colorado we’re in a three-year drought and the fuels are extremely dry,” she said. “Since early spring we knew it was going to be a bad year. It’s so dry that when lightning strikes it’s really easy for a fire to start.”

Incident Commander Allen Chrisman, who is in charge of the firefighters at PiRidge, explained the problems firefighters faced in the area and what their strategy was in battling the blaze.

“Steep terrain is a concern for firefighters, as is the extremely dry fuels and erratic fire behavior,” Chrisman said. “Crews continued to put out hot spots, and to build a fire line on the southern flank of the fire. They are patrolling the northern flank, checking for hotspots, and securing the fire line.”

The Black’s Gulch fire, burning 13 miles east of Meeker on North Ridge was at about 25 acres this morning, but is 25 percent contained.

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