A cold front at the end of the week has been a welcome reprieve for fire crews around Colorado, as cooler temperatures, rain and higher humidity have helped stifle wildfire growth.
The change in weather has allowed containment to rise on the state’s two largest fires — Pine Gulch near Grand Junction and Grizzly Creek in Glenwood Springs — and improved air quality up and down the Front Range.
Click here to skip to a specific fire: Pine Gulch fire | Grizzly Creek fire | Cameron Peak fire | Williams Fork fire | Wildfire map
Updated 10 a.m.
The Pine Gulch fire outside Grand Junction stayed tame overnight as it continues to burn 139,006 acres, 217 square miles, with 77% containment, fire officials said in a Saturday morning news release.
Despite its status as Colorado’s largest wildfire, firefighters have sustained only a few minor injuries as they battled the flames, officials said.
Fire activity has decreased significantly over the past week, with containment rising daily — enough that some crews have been sent to other fires around the state where they may be more necessary.
However, officials say “it will take a season-ending event such as significant, sustained rainfall (or even snow) for the fire to be completely ‘out.’ This may not take place until mid-September, October or even as late as November.”
Crews are now focused on suppression repair, which means minimizing damage to soil, water and other resources impacted by fire suppression activities, officials said.
Saturday morning could bring lingering showers and thunderstorms, with clouds decreasing and temperatures rising later in the day. The chance of afternoon thunderstorms could bring winds up to 40 mph. Any heavy rain brings the chance of flash flooding and debris flow, officials said.
Updated 10 a.m.
The Grizzly Creek fire in Glenwood Canyon remained stable overnight as it continues to burn 32,448 acres, almost 51 square miles, with 71% containment, fire officials said in a Saturday morning Facebook post.
With heavy rainfall forecast for Saturday morning, officials put a flash flood watch in place until 10 a.m.
The heavy rainfall “may lead to flash flooding and debris flows,” the Colorado Department of Transportation tweeted. “Be prepared for a potential closure if I-70 is impacted.”
Firefighters on Friday continued to work on the rugged terrain near No Name and Grizzly Creek drainages. Crew used a method called “cold trailing,” in which they inspect the fire’s edge by feeling for heat with their hands, officials said.
Fire managers also met with local officials Friday to discuss long-term objectives on the fire, which include the complete reopening of Interstate 70 and restoring access to public lands and roads, officials said.
A cold front is expected to move in Saturday, bringing heavy winds along with the rainfall, officials said.
Despite success on the fire’s containment, road closures remain in effect, including Coffee Pot Road, Transfer Trail Road and areas of the Flat Top Wilderness and White River National Forest.
Updated 10 a.m.
The Cameron Peak fire grew minimally overnight Friday, and is now burning 23,007 acres, 36 square miles, with 0% containment.
Rain on Friday moderated fire activity, as crews worked on Larimer County Road 103 and Manhattan Road, fire officials said on the incident webpage.
Structure protection will continue Saturday near the Crystal Lakes, Red Feather Lakes and Glacier View communities, officials said.
There’s a high chance of rain over the fire area Saturday, with similarly favorable fighting conditions, officials said.
Williams Fork fire
Updated 10 a.m.
The Williams Fork fire grew minimally overnight Friday and is now burning 12,079 acres, nearly 19 square miles, with 5% containment.
Friday’s rain over the fire limited its growth and allowed Grand County officials to lift pre-evacuation notices for several nearby communities, officials said.
Fire officials expect the fire to remain fairly calm Saturday as a cold front moves through the area bringing higher humidity and more rain, helping crews work on suppression efforts. The rain could, however, make it difficult for heavy machinery to move on the muddy mountain roads, officials said.
Crews continue to work on constructing fire lines south of Tabernash and Fraser, officials said.
There are no evacuations in place, while a wide swath of U.S. Forest Service land — including roads, trails and campgrounds — remains closed.
Click markers for details, use buttons to change what wildfires are shown. Map data is automatically updated by government agencies and could lag real-time events. Incident types are numbered 1-5 — a type 1 incident is a large, complex wildfire affecting people and critical infrastructure, a type 5 incident is a small wildfire with few personnel involved. Find more information about incident types at the bottom of this page.
Source: Read Full Article