MESA COUNTY, Colo.
The largest fire in Mesa County in the last 8 years may sound scary, but it doesn’t phase the professionals. Sierra Hellstrom with Wildland Fire says, “This tends to be a very common size of fire. Especially, in a year like this where we have severe drought. Conditions are hotter and dryer than normal.”
It takes a team of firefighters from Utah, Wyoming, and here in Colorado to fight the Pine Gulch Wildland fire anyway they can. “We do have aircraft on the fire at this time. We have fixed wing support, as well as, helicopters doing bucket drops,” says Hellstrom.
Aerial attacks help, but they’re not as effective as the men and women on the ground, with shovels in their hands. Sierra says, “Firefighters digging that hand line, and creating a fire break are what we are seeing make the progress.”
At the edge of a cliff at Palisade Point on top of the Grand Mesa, thousands of feet above Mount Garfield, is the most beautiful view of destruction caused from the Pine Gulch Fire. Fire officials say it is still only 5% contained, and has consumed almost 12,000 acres, but wind gusts up to 30 miles per add more fuel and ferocity to the fire. The Pine Gulch Fire is about 20 miles away from Grand Junction, but Sierra says fires can be unpredictable. “You should always be prepared for wildland fire. Making sure your homes have defensible space, and that you’re always prepared for, what if,” says Hellstrom.
Fire officials say not to worry because the fire is still 11 miles away from any structure, so there’s no imminent threat and no evacuation, but always hope for the best, and plan for the absolute worst. Sierra says, “Pack the P’s. Your papers, your prescriptions, your pets, and plan ahead for the things you know you need to take, if for some reason there was an evacuation.”