More fires ignite across Moffat County as responders work to contain Four Mile Fire |

More fires ignite across Moffat County as responders work to contain Four Mile Fire

Multiple blazes in Northwest Colorado occur during weekend

Patrick Kelly
Bureau of Land Management firefighters Mark Lowrey, Dale Beckerman and Eric Bloom regroup before returning to fight against the 1,000-acre Four Mile Fire. The fire, ignited Saturday afternoon by a lightning strike, was initially estimated at 450 acres.
Patrick Kelly

Fire crews are still working to contain the Four Mile Fire, which ignited Saturday afternoon near Moffat County Road 3, roughly 30 miles north of Craig on Bureau of Land Management land.

Initially reported as a 450-acre fire, by mid-afternoon Sunday it had been mapped at 1,000 acres using a GPS, according to Northwest Regional Fire Management Officer Sam Parson, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

Lynn Barclay, public information officer for Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit said the fire was 80 percent contained as of 7 p.m. Sunday.

BLM firefighter Eric Bloom said he expected the fire to be staffed through the next two days with mop-up beginning Sunday evening.

“We want to be really thorough with it and make sure it’s out cold before we leave,” he said.

Between BLM and Moffat County, five engines with crews of three to four firefighters responded to the fire on Sunday. A 20-person State Wildland Inmate Fire Team was also brought in from Juniper Valley.

The area caught up in the blaze was “prime sage grouse habitat,” according to BLM firefighter Dale Beckerman, who said he saw grouse while fighting the fire.

A press release from the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit stated, “The blaze most likely made its big push (Saturday) and firefighters will begin mop-up and securing the perimeter (Sunday). They will also have the opportunity to get a more accurate fire size using a Global Positioning System.”

On Saturday, the fire was blown through sagebrush and grass by wind and came within half a mile of a residence, which was evacuated without injury.

A total of nine fires were ignited from lightning strikes across Northwest Colorado on Saturday, according to NCFMU. The majority of the fires were less than one-tenth of an acre.

The Boston Flats Fire, a 20-acre blaze eight miles West of Maybell off State Highway 318, was contained and undergoing mop-up by 10 a.m. Sunday, Barclay said.

Responding agencies to Saturday’s fires include Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, Moffat County Road and Bridge Department, Craig Fire/Rescue, Baggs Volunteer Fire Department and BLM. Single engine air tankers from the Colorado Division of Fire Protection and Control assisted by dropping retardant. Crews from Meeker and Rangely also aided the effort.

A BLM release issued Sunday evening stated that more than 4,000 lightning strikes occurred in Northwest Colorado during the weekend, with 19 new fires reported Sunday.

The two fires of concern were the Thornburg Fire and the Indian Rock Fire, about three miles apart and six miles west and north of Maybell off Highway 318.

The Indian Rock Fire is about 10 acres on state land. Responders included Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, Craig Fire/Rescue and Maybell Volunteer Fire Department. The Colorado Juniper Valley crew was also reassigned to this incident from the Four Mile Fire.

The Thornburg Fire is estimated to be 100 acres on BLM land with two BLM engines and a single engine air tanker fighting it as of Sunday evening.

No structure damage or injury has been reported.

Other fires reported are in Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties with U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Rangely Rural Fire Protection District, Steamboat Fire Protection District and Artesia Fire Protection District responding.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

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