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Containment near 50% for Pine Gulch Fire in Colorado

The fire is 2,761 acres from becoming the largest fire in Colorado history
The Pine Gulch Fire has been burning since July 31 after it was sparked by lightning on Bureau...
The Pine Gulch Fire has been burning since July 31 after it was sparked by lightning on Bureau of Land Management land.(KKCO/KJCT)
Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 4:15 PM CDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - The Pine Gulch Fire is gradually increasing in acreage as it churns through dry fuels just east of Highway 139 in Garfield County. On Tuesday, the fire was at 134,999 acres, just a few thousand acres smaller than the Hayman Fire in 2002, the largest wildfire in state history at 137,706 acres.

The Pine Gulch Fire is getting larger, but firefighters’ containment of the fire is also improving. As of Tuesday morning, the fire is at 47% containment.

Heavy aircraft will be present in the sky today as they work to limit the fires spread in Corral Canyon and onto the ridge near Long Point in Division F. Crews will be utilizing logging equipment to remove heavy fuels in this area, and four more hand crews will arrive on Tuesday to assist with handlines in this division.

The fire continues to be the most active near Division F.
The fire continues to be the most active near Division F.(Pine Gulch Fire Facebook Page)

Firefighters in Division G, F, and L are continuing to assess structures and implement protection measures in these areas.

Crews are saying that the line on Highway 139 is holding well and that firefighters will secure and mop-up this edge on Tuesday.

After more than three weeks of burning, firefighters seem to be getting a handle on the blaze. Humidity is still sitting low in the teens, but it’s certainly better than two weeks ago when it was sitting in the single digits. However, fuels remain dry and receptive to burning and spotting.

The fire originally started by lightning on July 31. 907 total personnel are assigned to the fire, including 69 engines and 8 helicopters.

The fire is burning in both Garfield and Mesa Counties, and both have declared local disaster emergencies as they look to receive more resources to help combat the fire.

Senator Cory Gardner as well as Governor Jared Polis have both stopped in Grand Junction to visit the Incident Command Post of the Pine Gulch Fire. Last Friday, Governor Polis activated the Colorado National Guard to help aid firefighters in their efforts. The governor’s office said a BlackHawk helicopter crew is on standby in Gypsum to aid in search and rescue operations if the need arises.

Firefighters are working on the Pine Gulch Fire in some pretty remote areas.
Firefighters are working on the Pine Gulch Fire in some pretty remote areas.(Yzabelah Roberts)

As the fire has moved north and west, new evacuations have been forced. The list of areas now includes:

  • 4A Ridge Road (256)
  • Salt Wash (205)
  • King Road (258)
  • Clear Creek Road (211)
  • Carr Creek Road (207)
  • Kimball Creek Road (202)
  • Everything west of Douglas Pass (Highway 139) to Utah state line is under pre-evacuation orders

Road closures caused by the fire include:

  • Highway 139 between Mile Points 6 and 39,
  • Roan Creek Road (204) at North Dry Fork Road (200)
  • V 2/10 Road southwest of De Beque
  • Coal Canyon Road just past the Cameo Shooting Range
  • 21 Road north of the BLM boundary
  • 16 Road at V 8/10 Road
  • Q 5/10 Road is closed at 18 Road

On Thursday, the Bureau of Land Management announced closures for all areas north of the base of the Bookcliffs above Loma, Fruita, Grand Junction, and Palisade.

The 10 largest wildfires in Colorado history according to the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center are:

  • Hayman Fire, 2002, Pike National Forest (137,760 acres)
  • Pine Gulch Fire, 2020, Bookcliffs area (134,999 acres)
  • Spring Creek Fire, 2018, Sangre de Cristo Mountains (108,045 acres)
  • High Park Fire, 2012, Roosevelt National Forest (87,284 acres)
  • Missionary Ridge Fire, 2002, Durango area (70,485 acres)
  • West Fork Fire, 2013, Wolf Creek area (58,570 acres)
  • 416 Fire, 2018, Durango area (54,129 acres)
  • Papoose Fire, 2013, Creede area, (49,628 acres)
  • Bridger Fire, 2008, Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site (46,612 acres)
  • Last Chance Fire, 2012, Washington County (45,000 acres)

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