Meeker residents say ‘thank you’ as firefighters continue to battle blazes in Rio Blanco County | CraigDailyPress.com

Meeker residents say ‘thank you’ as firefighters continue to battle blazes in Rio Blanco County

CRAIG — Roads, businesses, and vehicles in the town of Meeker displayed numerous signs saying “thank you, firefighters,” for their work to suppress wildfires burning in Rio Blanco County.  In addition to the Indian Valley and Sulfur fires, a new fire — the Stewart Gulch fire — is now burning.

Stewart Gulch

The Stewart Gulch fire started late in the afternoon Tuesday, July 24, and is located in the vicinity of Rio Blanco County Road 5, near mile marker 15, about 20 miles southwest of Meeker, according to the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office. The cause of the fire and other details are not yet known, but by Wednesday morning the Bureau of Land Management was reporting that 47 acres had burned, with no containment reported.

Indian Valley and Sulphur Fires

The Southwest Area Incident Management Team 5 is working with local agencies in suppressing the lightening-caused Indian Valley and Sulphur fires burning near Meeker.

“Crews will be monitoring weather for gusty, erratic winds and shifts in weather patterns that could affect fire activity. Firefighter and public safety remains the top priority,” according to a news release sent by the team Wednesday. 

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Aircraft equipped with infrared capabilities flew over both Sulfur and Indian Creek fires, providing a better estimate of the actual fire perimeter and acres burned.

The Sulfure Fire was mapped as having burned 671 acres, with 5-percent containment, as of Wednesday morning.

Retardant lines were established by aircraft along the northwest portion of the fire, while helicopters continued to drop buckets of water along the southern edge. Firefighters were able to work on securing the southwest portion along County Road 11. Air support and firefighters are continuing to strengthen the fire line along County Road 11 to protect homes in the area and prevent southward fire progression,” the news release stated.

Evacuations were lifted for residents along Rio Blanco County Road 11 Tuesday evening, but the road remains closed to general public travel. Motorists should be prepared for heavy fire traffic on roads between County Road 11 and Barone Middle School.

The Indian Creek fire was mapped at 5,444 acres, with 31-percent containment, as of Wednesday morning.

Resources focused suppression efforts on the eastern portion due to high fire activity. The western portion had minimal progression, and in some areas, hand crews began to cold trail the fire edge. Cold trailing is a method firefighters use to confirm the edge of the fire is holding no heat that has the potential to ignite fuels. Firefighters continue to work in preventing fire progression towards ranching structures and well pads in the area” the news release stated.

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions remain in place, and motorists are advised to avoid the incident areas to allow firefighters and heavy traffic along roads in the fire areas.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.