*The following is a news release from the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team on Sunday, August 16.
Special Notes: Because of an increase in fire behavior and the need for fire crews to work safely, two additional roads near the southwest side of the fire have been barricaded: the 21 Road northbound starting approximately three miles north of the BLM boundary, and the 16 Road northbound starting at the intersection of Coal Canyon Rd. (V 8/10 Rd.).
There will be a virtual public meeting livestreamed at 6 p.m. on Monday, August 17. More information will be posted on Facebook and Inciweb.
Current Situation: The Pine Gulch Fire is now 81,107 acres. Yesterday, winds shifted and aligned with drainages, contributing to active fire behavior on the southwest side in Division D. Fire burned during the day and into the night, moving onto Garfield Mesa and crossing the V 8/10 Rd. Today, additional resources will arrive to this area, and crews will utilize road systems and handline to reduce fire spread to the south. While higher elevation winds will come from the NE and NW today, lower level winds may also come from the S/SW in Division D. As these winds come together, they have the potential to create eddying effects and contribute to significant fire behavior in Division D.
Today in Division E on the northwest side, crews will utilize control line and burning operations when possible to help keep fire south of the 204 Rd. and limit spread to the west and north. In Division K on the north, there is still heat at the fire’s edge. Firefighters will be securing this edge and will keep mopping up and securing structures along the 204 Rd. where the fire has already passed through. Firefighters are successfully utilizing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Division K to conduct strategic aerial ignitions in the evening and night; conditions are most appropriate during this time. Use of this equipment also helps minimize firefighter exposure and risk. On the east side in Division Z, there has been some containment (black line) added, and containment here is expected to increase in the coming days. The fire on the east and southeast (Divisions Z and A) has been hung up in rocks and natural features with no recent growth. Structures have been successfully secured and protected in this area. Crews will keep securing the fire’s edge and mop up completed containment lines in Divisions Z and A.
Two new Divisions, F and L, have been added to the northwest and north, respectively. Crews and heavy equipment operators in this area are scouting to identify potential dozer and hand lines as secondary control features in the case of any fire spread to the north or northeast. They are preparing the 209 and 207 Roads and assessing structures in this area.
Weather & Fuel Conditions: Today will be another hot and dry day, with temperatures up to 93 and humidity between 6-9%. Winds are forecast from the NE at 5-8mph with gusts to 12mph, shifting to come from the N then NW in the afternoon at 8-12 mph with gusts to 18. The atmosphere remains unstable, and the combination of low humidity, susceptible fuels and winds could contribute to active fire behavior and spread.
Closures and Evacuations: Garfield County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation order for residents on Roan Creek (204) road, Clear Creek (211) road, Carr Creek (207) road and Brush Creek (209) road on Aug 9, 2020. Garfield County issued an evacuation order for residences on CR 202 on Saturday. For more information on evacuation orders, please visit https://garfieldcounty.net/. There is a road closure in effect on Roan Creek Road (204) at North Dry Fork (200) road; that closure is being staffed by a Sheriff’s deputy. The 21 Road northbound starting approximately three miles north of the BLM boundary, and the 16 Road northbound starting at the intersection of Coal Canyon Rd. (V 8/10 Rd.) are now barricaded.
Air Quality: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for points east of the Pine Gulch and Grizzly Creek fires. A smoke outlook for the Pine Gulch Fire is available where this update is posted and at https://fires.airfire.org/outlooks/WesternColorado. Continued widespread smoke from the Pine Gulch fire will impact many parts of Colorado Sunday morning into Sunday night. Areas affected downwind from the fires include Craig and Meeker to the north, along the I-70 corridor in central Colorado, and as far east as the Front Range region and eastern plains. This will bring periods of smoke rated as ‘moderate’ to levels ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ levels to areas northeast of the fire including Garfield County, Moffat County, Mesa County, and Rio Blanco County. Brief periods of heavy smoke will also be possible. For more information on smoke levels, please visit https://airnow.gov.
Emergency Alerts: Both Mesa and Garfield counties have emergency alert systems to alert citizens – by cell or land line phone – about emergencies, evacuations, and other important community news. To sign up for alerts in Garfield County, please visit garco911.com. For Mesa County alerts, please visit bit.ly/Emergency_Alerts.
Temporary Flight Restrictions: A Temporary Flight Restriction is in place over the Pine Gulch Fire. Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Whenever a drone is spotted near the fire all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of the area. For more information, visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org.