SUMMIT COUNTY — Despite facing windy conditions, firefighting crews were able to fully contain the Pine Ridge Fire that burned northeast of Grand Junction for eight days, at one point forcing the evacuation of an entire town as the flames raced toward De Beque.
Incident commander Bill Hahnenberg declared the fire contained at about 6 p.m. on July 4. The fire burned across 13,920 acres in dry brush and scattered stands of piñon pines. At times, the fire burned within sight of the Colorado River and required the intermittent closure of I-70. Continue reading “Colorado: Pine Ridge Fire fully contained”→
Terrain, access and concern about resources challenge firefighters
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Pine Ridge Fire, in Mesa County, Colorado, has grown to more than 13,000 acres but is also more than a third contained, with continued concerns about potential threats to the town of De Beque and the I-70 corridor.
Fire behavior contineus to be extreme in some sectors, with torching, backing and more fire in fuel islands remaining on the fire’s interior.
Fire officials said key factors, including winds and fuel moisture, combined, indicate there is a high potential for extreme fire behavior, intensity, and growth. With a shift in the wind, firefighters had to hold the line on the north, northeast and southeast flanks.
The Union Pacific Railroad is helping to deliver water to remote areas of the fire by rail and a team of resource advisors is working with fire managers because of concerns about oil and gas well locations, cultural resources, threatened and endangered species, and the wild horse range.
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 stops at the Colorado River”→
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.
Winds fanning western Colorado blaze; threatened wells have been shut down
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal officials said there are 35 active gas and oil wells within about five miles of the 1,500-acre Pine Ridge Fire in Mesa County, and that the fire has already burned past one well.
Fighting wildfires in an area with oil and gas development adds complexity and raises special safety issues, said BLM spokesman David Boyd.
“We know who the operators are and we call them right away,” Boyd said, explaining that the wells can be turned of from remote locations, and the wells near the Pine Ridge Fire have been shut down.