GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The Pine Gulch Fire has now burned more than 73,000 acres – becoming the fourth-largest wildfire in Colorado’s history. As this massive blaze and the neighboring Grizzly Creek Fire burn across Western Colorado, Governor Polis stopped in Grand Junction to speak with command officials – and be briefed on what ground efforts are being taken to stop this fire.
With two wildfires on the Western Slope drawing national attention, Governor Polis traveled west on Friday to meet with the incident command for both the Pine Gulch and Grizzly Creek fires. “These are two fires of national significance,” Polis said during the briefing. “We’re getting a lot of national support in both of these.”
Polis learned from Pine Gulch officers what’s being done on the ground…and what precautions are in place for when this fire spreads. The most pressing question was about the town of DeBeque. “We still are optimistic that those natural barriers and those rocky areas will hopefully hold and prevent that spread, but obviously we’ll be active in alerting DeBeque residents if there is a change,” said Polis.
Joining the governor was Colorado State Senator Ray Scott – who wanted to support the hundreds of firefighters tackling the flames and thank Polis for the state resources used to fight the twin blazes. “I’m hearing there are over 700 people between the fires and here, they’re doing incredible work,” Scott said. “We have to give them our thoughts and prayers.” He later added, “Without our state support and our state partners, it would be much more difficult to fight these types of things, and [Polis] has been amazing at getting us the things we need.”
But help is coming from the federal level, too, as government organizations offer a helping hand – and funding – to Colorado teams on the ground. “There’s a shared responsibility for federal land – a lot of the resources and funding come from the federal side, so both of these fires are a majority of federal land,” explained Polis. And help is needed, as Governor Polis warns that even after the flames burn out – the danger isn’t over just yet. “We also, of course, will be very concerned – particularly with the Grizzly Creek Fire – for mudslides and avalanches in the wet season immediately after these fires.”
We will continue to follow the Pine Gulch and Grizzly Creek fire, and keep you informed.