Fires engulf collective 55 acres |

Fires engulf collective 55 acres

Lightning sparks 20-acre fire 3 1/2 miles northeast of Elkhead Reservoir

Michelle Balleck

Two wildland fires – one Monday and one Tuesday – burned 55 acres of private land in Moffat County.

Monday’s fire, which was caused by a lightning strike, burned 20 acres at the intersection of Moffat County Roads 29 and 36, 3 1/2 miles northeast of Elkhead Reservoir and near the Routt County line.

The fire ignited at about 5:15 p.m. Moffat County Sheriff’s Office and Bureau of Land Management fire crews responded to the call.

“It was burning in sagebrush, service berry and oak brush,” said Cpl. Todd Wheeler, fire management officer for the Sheriff’s Office.

Crews used about 5,000 gallons of water from the landowner’s pond to help contain the fire by 7:30 p.m. and control it by 9:30 p.m. They returned Tuesday to mop up the site and check for hot spots, Wheeler said.

The second fire, which began shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday, burned 35 acres of land on the south side of Moffat County Road 15, about 10 miles northwest of Craig.

Craig Fire/Rescue sent three engines and one tanker to the scene. The Sheriff’s Office and BLM each sent one tanker. The fire was contained by about 3 p.m.

Lightning caused another fire Sunday afternoon in nearly the same location. But the cause of Tuesday’s fire is unknown, Deputy Fire Chief Bill Johnston said.

No structures or people were threatened in any of this week’s fires.

Wheeler attributes Moffat County’s rash of recent fires to the area’s dryness.

“A lot of lightning, very little rain,” Wheeler said. “And what rain we are getting is very spotty.

“With the current drying trends that we have right now, I’m actually expecting that the chances for fire are going to grow at this point.”

Johnston said taking some protective measures – such as avoiding placing firewood against a home, keeping the roof clear of debris and keeping fire tools and hoses readily available – can sometimes save a person’s home if a wildland fire is near.

“If I live in a rural setting : I’d check my fire breaks,” Johnston said. “And I’d also be aware – any smoke, call it in. The sooner we get here, the sooner we control it.”

To report a fire, call 911 or 824-8111.

The Craig Fire Rescue was paged out at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. See tomorrow’s Daily Press for details.

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