MESA COUNTY, Colo.- Driven by high temperatures, extremely low humidity, and strong afternoon winds, the Pine Gulch Fire grew to 20,089 acres on Friday. On Friday afternoon, the fire moved down Forshay Gulch on the north side of Horse Mountain to the 200 Road. The fire then moved east along the 200 Road and established itself in both Lion and Bledsaw Gulch. Two crews working along the 200 Road attempted to keep the fire on the south side of the 200 road as it pushed to the northeast, but the fire quickly outpaced the crews and crossed to the north side of the 200 road. Firefighters on the north side of the fire disengaged and retreated to safety zones while the fire continued pushing northeast, crossing 200 road near High Lonesome Ranch.
Friday’s swing shift was successful in completing firing operations that connected the O 9/10 road south of the fire to the southwest corner of the fire’s perimeter. On Saturday, crews in Division A will hold and improve lines along the O 9/10 Road. In Division D, on the west side of the fire, crews will continue constructing line to the east with hand crews and bulldozers to complete the fireline at the west end of the North Dry Fork Road (200 road). Crews in Division Z on the southeast side of the fire will continue indirect line construction on the X ½ Road for future suppression operations. Firefighters in Division G on the northeast side of the fire will continue improving the prep work on the 200 road and structure protection operations. Crews will also be accessing Cow Ridge from the Kimball Creek drainage (202 road) to assess structures and opportunities for future suppression actions for the fire that crossed the 200 road on Friday. Aerial resources will be used again today to assist efforts on the ground.
Weather & Fuel Conditions: Humidity recovery was poor overnight, only increasing to approximately 17%. Humidity will decrease through the day today with an expected minimum relative humidity as low as 9%. Temperatures are expected to be 85-88 degrees. Winds out of the southwest are again expected to pick up midday into the afternoon with gusts up to 20 mph. If winds and slope align over the fire, there is a possibility for extreme fire behavior again today.
Closures and Evacuations: There is a road closure in place on Mesa County Road 200 at the Mesa-Garfield County line to prevent nonessential traffic from entering the fire area. The presence of non-fire traffic within the area is a distraction and a hazard to firefighters and members of the public. There are no evacuations in place at this time.
Fire Restrictions: Fire danger across the region is rated as very high. Both Mesa County and Garfield County have Stage 1 Fire Restrictions. BLM lands within the Grand Junction Field Office are also under Stage 1 Restrictions. To learn more about fire restrictions on BLM-managed lands in western Colorado, please visit https://go.usa.gov/xfVFY.
Temporary Flight Restrictions: A Temporary Flight Restriction is in place over the Pine Gulch Fire. Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, fire crews can’t. For more information, visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org.