Pine Ridge Fire stops at the Colorado River

West Slope blaze burns at least 12,000 acres

The Pine Ridge Fire ran fast until it encountered I-70 and the Colorado River, guarded by a line of firefighters.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —The lightning-sparked Pine Ridge Fire raced all the way to I-70 and the Colorado River Friday as residents of the greenbelt along the river watched anxiously.

But helped by the weather, as well as air support from of a couple of Canadian air tankers, firefighters were able to knock the fire down a couple of notches, declaring it 10 percent contained by the end of the day.

According to the most recent official estimates, the fire had burned across a footprint of at least 12,000 acres as of Friday morning, though that acreage is likely to grow after an evening overflight to collect heat data with infrared sensors. A total of four air tankers provided support today. Continue reading

Pine Ridge fire at 10,000 acres, races toward De Beque

Large West Slope fire burning near active gas wells

*Read: Colorado Western Slope firefighting resources stretched

Pine Ridge Fire, Mesa County, Colorado.

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.

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