Summer 2018 Wildfire Report for July 10: Tally in Northwest Colorado rises to 67 fires | CraigDailyPress.com

Summer 2018 Wildfire Report for July 10: Tally in Northwest Colorado rises to 67 fires

Firefighter Nick Scheller snapped this photo of a fellow firefighter on the line at the Divide Fire.

CRAIG — Drought conditions, combined with heavy fuel loads across Colorado, have created the perfect conditions for wildfire. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center had responded to 67 wildfires, 28 smoke checks and five false alarms. While most of these fires are out or contained, some continue to burn in our region. August is considered the peak of the western fire season.

Above-average fire activity was expected during the early portion of July across western Colorado, the result of recent and long-term precipitation deficits coinciding with the pre-monsoon window in the early portion of the month. By mid-month, however, predicted precipitation and humidity trends from the Southwest Monsoon, along with less-frequent wind events, are expected to drive large fire risk back into the average range, according to National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook, issued July 1 for Outlook Period  July, August, September and October.

Federal, state and local agencies continue to maintain Stage 1 fire restrictions in Northwest Colorado based on conditions and weather forecasts, and the Craig City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed an emergency ordinance adopting Stage 1 fire restrictions for the city. The emergency ordinance is a temporary measure lasting through early September. City Council will consider a permanent ordinance at it’s next meeting.

As some of the region’s largest fires were being contained, storms sparked new fires in the area. The Bureau of Land Management has taken control of the largest of the new fires in both Moffat and Rio Blanco counties.

"A Type 2 incident management team from Washington will assume command of the three fires in the Meeker area tomorrow (Wednesday)," BLM spokesperson David Boyd said. "They were staged in Loveland to be quickly available — the Colorado teams are already committed to fires. They (the Washington team) will also help with any new starts in the general area."

Following is a list of major fires still burning or recently suppressed in Northwest Colorado as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 10.

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Northwest Colorado

Recent Moffat County fires include the following

Skunk Creek Fire
• Size: 650 acres
• Containment: 50 percent, with about 110 firefighters working
• Location: 30 miles north of Craig near the Wyoming border
• Start date: July 8
• Cause: Lightning

Divide Fire
• Size: 19,955 acres
• Containment: 100 percent
• Location: 32 miles north of Craig, near Great Divide
• Start date: June 29
• Cause: Under investigation

Thornburg Fire
Size: 1,636 acres
Containment: 100 percent
Location: 3 miles East of Maybell
Start date: June 14
Cause: Undetermined

Recent Rio Blanco County fires include the following.

Fawn Fire
• Size: 600 acres
• Containment: 25 percent, with about 108 firefighters working
• Location: 30 miles southwest of Meeker
• Start date: July 7
• Cause: Undetermined

Smith Fire
• Size: 76 acres
• Containment: 90 percent contained
• Location: about eight miles north of Meeker, with 26 firefighters working
• Start date: July 9
• Cause: Undetermined

Sprague Fire
• Size: 91 acres
• Containment: percent containment unavailable
• Location: South of Rio Blanco County Road 5
• Start date: July 9
• Cause: Undetermined

Other notable Colorado fires included the following.

Sand Creek Fire
• Size: 10.5 acres
• Containment: 100 percent
• Location: South of Hayden
• Cause: Undetermined

Chedsey Fire
• Size: 45 acres
• Containment:  75 percent
• Location: Approximately 15 miles southwest of Walden 
• Start date: June 30
• Cause: Undetermined

Sugarloaf Fire
• Size: 1,260  acres
• Containment: 20 percent
• Location: 20 miles south of Granby
• Cause: Lightning/natural

Weston Pass Fire
• Size: 13,023 acres
• Containment: 63 percent
• Location: 9 miles southwest of Fairplay
• Start Date: June 29
• Cause: Lightning

Understanding wildfire Terminology

Fires have several status types, including contained, controlled and out.

Contained: A control line has been completed around the fire, and any associated spot fires, which can reasonably be expected to stop the fire’s spread.

Controlled: Has been contained with a completion of control line around a fire, any spot fires therefrom, and any interior islands to be saved; burned out any unburned area adjacent to the fire side of the control lines; and cool down all hotspots that are immediate threats to the control line, until the lines can reasonably be expected to hold under the foreseeable conditions.

A fire that is contained or controlled is not out and worsening conditions can contribute to loss of containment and/or control of a fire, as was the case with the Divide Fire north of Craig.  

Source: National Wildfire Coordinating Group