New wildfire erupts north of De Beque |

New wildfire erupts north of De Beque

Post Independent staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

De BEQUE, Colo. – On Wednesday afternoon, local and federal firefighters responded to a new wildfire reported about 20 miles north of De Beque on Roan Creek, County Road 204, Tanny McGinnis, spokeswoman for the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, said.

As of 5 p.m. the fire had reportedly burned about 15 acres and was threatening some structures. But firefighters were also reporting that the fire was “laying down,” which means that it was advancing slowly and staying close to the ground.

McGinnis said fire crews with the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit responded and called in assistance from two air tankers, a helicopter and eight fire engines.

She said the fire was sending a plume of smoke eastward into the Colorado River valley at least as far as New Castle.

The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit reported Wednesday that it expected to reach 100 percent containment on the Pine Ridge fire by the end of the day Thursday and fire crews were being sent back to their home units or to other wildfire incidents.

The lightning-caused fire started on Wednesday, June 27, and burned an area west of De Beque Canyon and southwest of the town of De Beque. It made a big run on June 28, growing from 1,500 acres to 12,000 acres, dropping down into De Beque Canyon and licking across the Colorado River.

Fire crews worried that it would also cross I-70 and head east toward Grand Mesa, but they were able to keep it contained in the river bottom. Residents of the town of De Beque were put on a pre-evacuation order, and about 50 residences in an area east of the town were ordered to evacuate from Thursday until Sunday.

Union Pacific and Amtrak trains were diverted through Wyoming, and Union Pacific crews used trains to haul water into the fire area to assist firefighters.

The final fire acreage is 13,920 acres, and cost for fighting the fire is $2.9 million.

Management of the fire was to be turned over the BLM Grand Junction Field Office at 6 a.m. today.

Final work by the interagency fire crews included reinforcing the constructed fire line, patrolling the burned area, extinguishing any hot areas that still remain, removing flagging and signs, and building waterbars along the fire line and roads to prevent erosion during heavy rainfall.

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