UPDATE: (8/5, 1:00 PM) The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team reports the #PineGulchFire has grown to 9,210 acres as of Wednesday morning. Remains at 5% containment.
MESA COUNTY, Colo.- The Pine Gulch fire has no sign of slowing down in the Bookcliffs. The Bureau of Land Management Reports the fire has grown to over 3,600 acres as of Tuesday evening, and remains at only five percent containment.
Over 140 firefighters are working on this fire right now, as additional crews were needed to contain the blaze.
The Grand Valley remains under an air quality health advisory until at least Wednesday morning, and will depend on the overall condition of the fire.
The wildfire air tanker base near Grand Junction Regional Airport was busy Tuesday, with air tankers continuing to make dozens of trips to the Pine Gulch Fire site in order to contain the blaze.
“Air attack continues on the Pine Gulch Fire,” said Upper Colorado River Fire Management managing officer Lathan Johnson. “Yesterday it was a busy day at the Grand Junction Air Tanker Base, over 30 retardant drops were done on the fire.”
Johnson said some of the planes are actually flying across the region to various wildfires right now as it’s high season for aerial wildfire fighting.
“The system that the federal government uses involves air tankers that are both U.S. Forrest Service funded and BLM funded,” Johnson said. “They come in from all over the American West to help us here with the Pine Gulch Fire. Right now we’re a higher priority fire in the region.”
An air quality expert with Mesa County Public Health says vulnerable populations must be cautious right now as the area remains under an air quality advisory.
“The elderly and the very young, and then those who have problems with their breathing,” said air quality exper Tom Orr “(Conditions) like emphysema, chronic destructive pulmonary disease, and asthma.”
Orr says there are easy steps you can take to avoid harmful exposure to smoke during an air quality advisory.
“If they’re kind of in the area and experiencing a lot of smoke, they can close their windows and turn off the swamp coolers,” Orr said “You don’t want to be bringing that smoke in and breathing it.”