Updated: Northern Moffat County wildfire slows as more blazes burn across Colorado
Editor’s note: This post was updated at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 14.
CRAIG — At least five fires continue to burn in or near Colorado, down from the seven burning earlier in the week, and wildfire danger continues to be rated as extreme or very high across much of the state, including in Moffat County, where a red flag warning continues.
A series of storms is forecast to roll through the area during the weekend. Humidity and precipitation could bring some relief to firefighters, but crews are concerned storms could bring strong winds, and lightning could spark new fires.
The many fires burning across Colorado are impacting tourism in the state, especially in southern Colorado, where San Juan National Forest, Purgatory Resort and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad have all been closed.
Many cities have also canceled Fourth of July fireworks displays. In Steamboat Springs, the city has solidified its backup plan, and Las Vegas Lasers has been hired to put on a show at Howelsen Hill the evening of July 4.
Unnamed fire near Maybell
A fire broke out on private property near milepost 63 on U.S. Highway about 2:15 p.m., Thursday, June 14, and was pushed by winds in the direction of several structures, threatening a pole barn and multiple residences.
The fire was contained in time to prevent any loss of structures, Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume said, adding there were no injuries to people or livestock.
The final size of the area burned was not available at press time, however, it appeared to be fewer than 20 acres. The cause of the fire is unknown and is under investigation by the Moffat County Sheriff’s Department.
Craig Fire/Rescue, Bureau of Land Management and Maybell fire departments, Maybell Emergency Medical Services, Colorado Department of Transportation and Yampa Valley Electric all responded to the fire. According to scanner traffic, the agencies were aided by a resident who used his equipment to cut a fire break between the fire and additional structures.
On Tuesday, multiple wildfires closed Colorado Highway 13 about 23 miles north of Craig, near milepost 115, and forced the evacuation of one family living in the area. Multiple fast-moving fires that ignited in sagebrush near the highway forced law enforcement to close the roadway for about five hours.
The Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, Craig Fire/Rescue, Colorado Department of Transportation, Yampa Valley Electric Association and the Bureau of Land Management all responded, as well as volunteer crews from Wyoming’s Baggs and Encampment. BLM assumed command of the response and brought in helicopter air support.
The fire was about 80 percent contained Tuesday, June 12, and full containment was expected by Wednesday, June 13. According to scanner traffic, firefighters were released from the scene Thursday, June 14, though some were redeployed to the fire near Maybell.
The voracious 416 Fire continues to consume acres of mostly forest lands west of U.S. Highway 550, Shawn Dawden, spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team, said Wednesday morning. The fire is 15 percent contained. The latest report, from about 10 p.m. Wednesday evening, puts the total acres consumed at more than 32,000, according to the National Incident Center. As of Thursday evening, acreage was expected to have increased on the south and northwestern portions of the fire. Nine hundred, ninety-eight homes are currently evacuated with 1,658 homes on pre-evacuation notice, according to the National Incident Reporting system.
The most active part of the fire is in the southwestern corner, where the blaze is approaching neighborhoods, Dawden said. Currently, 1,029 firefighters, eight helicopters and several airplanes are battling the fire.
The drought-driven wildfire has closed the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado for the first time in its 113-year history. The general public is prohibited from entering the 1.8 million-acre forest that stretches across nine counties. The closure comes at the beginning of the area’s busy summer season, which attracts visitors and tourists from around the world.
Read more about this fire at denverpost.com.
Badger Creek Fire
The Badger Creek Fire expanded to more than 11,000 acres Wednesday as the U.S. Forest Service harnessed more resources and personnel to combat the blaze, Fire Information Officer Jackie Parks said. Hot, dry weather conditions and steady winds Tuesday played a significant role in the fire’s growth, Parks said.
Structures have been destroyed in the fast-moving wildfire, which is burning just north of the Wyoming border.
The U.S. Forest Service has not disclosed how many structures were lost or if any homes have been destroyed.
“We can’t say anything, because the sheriff is still making notifications,” Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos said. “There are a variety of communities that have been evacuated that the fire has not reached yet.”
Smoke from the fire has been visible from northern parts of Routt County.
Read the full story here.
The Burro Fire in the Bear Creek drainage of the Dolores Valley continues to grow but is not threatening structures. As of Wednesday, June 13, the blaze, which is burning east of Dolores, had scorched 3,408 acres. Five fire crews comprising 168 firefighters are on the scene along with an engine and two bulldozers to establish a fire line.
Read more about this fire at durangoherald.com.
Crews continued mop-up efforts throughout the day Thursday. Despite warm, dry and breezy conditions, there was minimal fire activity, with some smoking and smoldering within the interior of the fire perimeter, said Incident Commander Jeremy Spetter.
“Smoke and dust will continue to be visible in the coming days,” Spetter said. “There are still smoldering hot spots within the fire perimeter that may continue to produce smoke; we are being very diligent with our work because of continued weather conditions.”
Complete containment is expected on June 15.
Read the full story at vaildaily.com.
Buffalo Mountain Fire
As of Wednesday morning, June 13, there was no overnight growth of the Buffalo Mountain Fire, which remained at 91 acres. All evacuations have been lifted, but pre-evacuations still remain. An expected containment date is Monday, June 18.
Read more about this fire at SkyHiNews.com.
The Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters will move to Grand Junction.