Strong winds fanning western Colorado blaze
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The rapidly growing Pine Ridge Fire has prompted the Mesa County Sheriff to order an evacuation as the fire nears the town of De Beque.
The evacuation covers the area east of I-70, west of 45 1/2 Road, and south of U Road.
The evacuation center is being set up at Palisades High School. Evacuees should proceed south on the De Beque cut-off to State Highway 65 (towards Mesa).
The fire was reported at about 1,500 acres Thursday morning but has been growing all day, according to spokesperson Skye Sieber. There are 35 active wells within five miles of the fire. All the wells have been shut down, according to the Bureau of Land Management.
The fire has already burned past one well pad. Fighting fires in areas with oil and gas development creates special risks and safety concerns for firefighter, according to BLM spokesman David Boyd.
Oil and gas well operators coordinate closely with federal agencies and local fire districts to share vital information about energy development infrastructe safety, Boyd said.
Two helicopters and an air tanker are aiding the federal and local firefighters working the Pine Ridge fire.