GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Colorado’s second largest wildfire in history, the Pine Gulch Fire, is still growing. After three weeks, fire officials say the blaze has burned approximately 124, 934 acres. The Pine Gulch Fire team says it was a good night weather-wise last night. The humidity was higher than usual, and the temperature was cooler than usual, so they achieved about 17% containment. And although the fire team says that if the winds stay calm they expect to see an increase in the containment percentage, the blaze is still actively burning.
Fire officials say the Pine Gulch Fire is contained along the south, the east, and the northeast sides of the Book Cliffs, which they are feeling confident about. Even so, Tracey LeClair from the Pine Gulch Fire team says, “People are going to see fire and smoke up on that hillside probably until it snows.”
In the meantime, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department has issued evacuations northwest of the Pine Gulch Fire, and there is a pre-evacuation order for all residents West of Highway 139 to the Utah border. The fire team is also keeping a close eye on the west side of the Book Cliffs near Fruita. As the winds continue to move west, so does the flames. LeClair says, “even though it is sparsely populated there, there are many ranches and livestock.” Therefore, she urges residents to be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
However, fire officials say that the fire should not move past the ridge of the west side of the mountain unless a strong gust of wind moves ash in that direction towards dry vegetation and starts a spot fire.
KREX 5 News will be sure to provide more information on the Pine Gulch Fire as it becomes available.