Middle Mamm Fire south of Rifle grows to 985 acres

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
A tandem rotor helicopter drops water on a hot spot on the north edge of the Middle Mamm fire south of Rifle on Saturday.
Kyle Mills/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

The Middle Mamm Fire that’s burning about 10 miles south of Rifle on the White River National Forest grew to 985 acres over the weekend, as firefighters worked on Sunday to build a fire containment line.

Much of the growth happened late Friday and Saturday after a large spot fire established in Friday evening’s high winds, according to a Sunday press release from the Forest Service.

The spot fire remained almost entirely on National Forest System lands, according to the release.

A public meeting Sunday afternoon to update residents on the fire management plan was attended by a couple of residents from the Grass Mesa neighborhood below the fire area, Forest spokeswoman Lynn Lockwood said.

The fire has led to the closure of some area on the perimeter of the fire, which could impact hunting access as the first rifle season opens next weekend.

Lockwood noted an incident on the Cabin Lake Fire near Buford last fall when firefighters who were working the fire line heard gun shots in the area.

“We would like to stress that it’s important to stay out of this area, and let them complete their work,” Lockwood said of the fire management efforts. “It’s an inconvenience this year, but it’s going to be for the best next year.”

A temporary emergency area closure in the vicinity of the fire has been ordered by the Rifle Ranger District and the Grand Valley Ranger District of the adjacent Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests.

The closure area includes several miles of Forest Service Trail 2160, from the West Mamm drainage to the intersection of the Battlements Trail (FST 2160) and Forest Service Road 271 straddling the national forest boundaries.

The closure area on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison side also includes approximately 2 miles of the Battlement Trail (FST 527), which is now closed between the intersection with the Brush Creek Trail (FST 529) and East Brush Creek Trail (FST 504).

The closure is to remain in effect until Dec. 31, or until it is rescinded, according to Forest officials.

Heading into the first of the week, Lockwood said fire managers will be working to complete a section of the containment line and secure the edges before the next storm front is due to arrive on Wednesday. That front is expected to bring more windy weather.

“If people see smoke, especially in the afternoon, it’s likely in conjunction with those burns,” she said.

On Saturday, winds subsided and firefighters were able to place retardant along the northeast ridgeline, according to the latest fire incident information.

“Crews are reinforcing containment lines on the west flank, and constructing new containment lines in preparation for firing operations,” according to the Sunday release. “These actions are a priority to limit the spread of the fire to private lands.”

Firefighters removed vegetation and mowed around structures at the base of the ridgeline. Crews will continue to be available for structure protection, according to the release.