Large West Slope fire burning near active gas wells
Pine Ridge Fire, Mesa County, Colorado.
The Pine Ridge Fire burns down off the mesa toward I-70. Photo courtesy BLM.
An aerial view of the Pine Ridge Fire. Photo courtesy BLM.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Pine Ridge Fire, burning about 10 miles northeast of Grand Junction, grew rapidly Thursday, reaching an estimated 10,000 acres in size and threatening the town of De Beque, according to a late-evening update at www.inicweb.org.
Rapid growth of the fire in multiple directions prompted the Mesa County Sheriff to issue evacuation orders for for the area east of I-70, west of 45 1/2 Road, and south of U Road. An evacuation center is set up at the Palisades High School.
A Type 1 federal management team is slated to arrive at the fire Friday. According to the Bureau of Land Management, there are at least 35 active gas wells within a few miles of the fire, which has already burned past one well pad.
All of the wells in the affected area have been shut down.
The lightning-sparked fire is burning in dry pinon-juniper woodlands and sage scrub. Fire behavior is characterized as extreme, and firefighting efforts are aimed at trying to steer the fire away from developed areas. The fire is nearing I-70, prompting a closure of the highway. Several spotfires may have already been started south of I-70.
Read more about the potential dangers of wildfires in gas-well areas in this Summit Voice story.
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, energy, Environment, forest fires, gas drilling, wildfires | Tagged: Colorado wildfires, De Beque Colorado, Mesa County wildfire, Pine Ridge Fire, Pine Ridge fire evacuations, Pine Ridge Fire I-70 | Leave a comment »