Pre-evacuation lifted for Sulphur Fire; Silver Creek Fire results in some Routt County Forest closures |

Pre-evacuation lifted for Sulphur Fire; Silver Creek Fire results in some Routt County Forest closures

Meeker resident Debbie Rudd captured this photo of the Sulphur fire as it burned about 8 miles north of Meeker on Sunday, July 22.

A total of 101 wildfires have been recorded this year by the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center as of noon Monday, July 23. Most of the fires have been small and were quickly suppressed. Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are still in effect in the area, and crews continue to battle three fires — the Indian Valley Fire in Rio Blanco and Moffat counties, the Sulphur Fire in Rio Blanco County and the Silver Creek Fire in Routt and Grand counties.

Silver Creek Fire

The Silver Creek Fire was reported about noon Thursday, July 19, and as of noon Monday, July 22, it had burned about 100 acres of lodgepole, spruce and fir pine forest on Gore Mountain in the Routt National Forest near the Routt and Grand County border. The cause of the fire is unknown. A closure order has been issued for the Silver Creek Fire area in Routt and Arapaho national forests in Routt and Grand counties.

The order was created for the entire Sarvis Creek Wilderness and all National Forest System lands adjacent to the east, including the Red Dirt Reservoir area and the National Forest System Road 100, from the junctions of FSR 250 and FSR 101 in the southern portion of FSR 100 to the junction of FSR 317 in the northern portion of FSR 100, a distance of approximately 20 miles, according to information released on Inciweb 0n Sunday.

The purpose of the order is to provide for public and firefighter safety due to the impacts of the wildland fire and associated fire incident management activities.

The order prohibits the public from going into or being upon an affected area, being on closed roads or entering or being in an affected area. Federal, state or local officers or members of an organized rescue or firefighting force, in the performance of an official duty, are exempt from the prohibition, as are any persons operating in an official capacity, as determined by the agency administrator per a letter of authorization.

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The order went into effect July 22 and will remain in effect until rescinded. About 15 firefighters were assigned to the fire as of July 22.

Sulphur Creek Fire 

Crews began responding to the Sulphur Creek fire about 3:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22. The fire has burned at least 500 acres between Sulphur Creek and Wilson Creek in Rio Blanco County, about 8 miles north of Meeker. Volatile fire behavior created by gusting winds promoted the evacuation and pre-evacuation of residents.

“As the winds continued to be erratic, pushing the fire, we took all precautions to keep all safe and put evacuation orders in from mile marker 2.5 to the end of County Road 11, as well as putting pre-evacuation orders in effect with Sage Hills residences. The winds calmed down, letting the fire settle (enabling officials to) lift the pre-evacuation around 11 p.m. (Sunday, July 22),” according to the Rio Blanco Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Indian Valley Fire

Lightning sparked the Indian Valley Fire, which was reported about 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 20, and sent ash north into Craig.

As of 6 a.m. Monday, July 23, the fire was reported by the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center Incident Reporting System at more than 5,300 acres, burning in timber understory, short grass and brush.

According to RMACC's Large Incident Report for July 22, 15 structures are threatened. An update posted by the current incident command team July 22 stated sage grouse habitat is also in danger.

The Indian Valley Fire was only 5-percent contained, burning on private and public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, prompting activation of a Type 2 incident team to help fight the fire.

The Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office expected fire suppression efforts to become difficult late in the day Monday, as strong, gusty and erratic winds and thunderstorms were expected to increase throughout the area.