Moisture may dampen Lost Solar Fire in Flat Tops Wilderness |

Moisture may dampen Lost Solar Fire in Flat Tops Wilderness

A cold front expected to move in Thursday, bringing with it a potential for rain and snow, could significantly reduce the Lost Solar Fire burning in the southwest Flat Tops Wilderness.

The Lost Solar Fire has been burning since a lightning strike in the area on Aug. 8. Now burning at about 4,417 acres, the fire straddles Garfield and Rio Blanco counties about 24 miles southeast of Meeker in a steep and remote section of the wilderness.

Fire crews are managing this remote fire with a “confine and contain” strategy — closely observing the fire’s behavior, holding back what would be a multi-million-dollar attack on the blaze and allowing the ecology of the wilderness to benefit from the burning.

But leading up to the possible precipitation on Thursday and Friday, dry and windy conditions were expected to begin Tuesday that could increase fire activity and smoke, according to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s air quality department.

“Any smoke that is produced by the fire will likely be pushed toward the east or northeast, and may affect the communities of Steamboat Springs, Oak Creek, Phippsburg, Yampa, Taponas and McCoy, as well as other locations in the Yampa Valley,” the air quality department reported.

“Winds are probably going to increase a bit over next couple days. But with that, we’re expecting a lot of moisture to work into the area,” said Andrew Lyons, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

Some tropical moisture, remnants of Hurricane Paine off Mexico’s Baja peninsula, and an upper level storm system are setting the stage for more moisture and storm activity here, he said.

Chances of precipitation in the area start to increase Wednesday, and then Thursday is forecast to be the wettest, with 60 to 70-percent chances of precipitation, said Lyons.

This cold front moving through Thursday and Friday will also probably produce some of the coldest temperatures the area has seen yet this season, he said.

A closure around the Lost Solar Fire, which went into effect Sept. 13, is being reassessed weekly, and fire managers will consider the effect of the cold front and precipitation.

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