Fire burns southwest of Rifle |

Fire burns southwest of Rifle

Mike McKibbin
Rifle correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Bernie BoettcherSmoke billows from a wildfire southwest of Rifle on Thursday.

RIFLE, Colo. ” Heavy smoke was billowing southwest of Rifle due to a wildfire that grew to between 80-100 acres by Thursday night, according to the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit.

The Porcupine Fire, along the Porcupine Creek drainage, was not immediately threatening any structures, said spokeswoman Kimberly Miller, but natural gas wells and drilling rigs were in the vicinity. No evacuation orders had been issued as of Thursday afternoon.

The fire was reported at approximately 10:16 a.m., but its cause was not immediately known, Miller said. No lightning strikes had been reported the previous evening, but some had occurred in previous days, she said.

The fire began on Bureau of Land Management property and spread to the White River National Forest, Miller said.

Pinyon pine and juniper fueled the fire’s rapid growth, she said.

“We’re at the end of a drying cycle, so there are a lot of dry fuels out there,” Miller said.

The fire was fought through the air and on the ground, Miller said. A heavy air tanker and two single-engine tankers dropped fire retardant on it, along with a helicopter that splashed water on the fire from a water bucket.

More air support was requested Thursday, Miller said, along with a Type I Hot Shot crew that has special training to fight such fires.

Approximately 40 people were fighting the fire, and a Type 3 firefighting team was being assembled.

As of the last update, zero percent of the fire was contained.

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