Firefighters hopeful rainy weather, cloud cover will help combat Cache Creek Fire near Rifle | AspenTimes.com

Firefighters hopeful rainy weather, cloud cover will help combat Cache Creek Fire near Rifle

Fire is at 1,342 acres, no containment

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

A map of the Cache Creek Fire area southwest of Rifle, as of Friday morning.

Rain and cloud cover today was expected to help firefighting efforts on the Cache Creek Fire burning north of Battlement Trail and southwest of Houston Mountain near Rifle.

The fire grew to 1,342 acres Wednesday and held steady at that acreage on Thursday, according to a Friday morning update from U.S. Forest Service fire information officials.

However, there was still zero containment on the fire, which forced the evacuation of four cabins along Battlement Creek Reservoir Road but has not threatened any other structures. Those areas are now on pre-evacuation notice. No structures have been lost.

"Hard work in rough terrain has produced gains in fireline construction around much of the fire’s perimeter, with no injuries reported," according to the update. "Safety of firefighters and the public is the first priority for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Blue Team."

Fire information staff hosted a community meeting in Parachute Thursday that was attended by more than 120 people. Operations and command staff summarized progress made, tactics used, and planning strategies.

"Most notably, community support for firefighters was expressed," according to the Friday news release. Incident Commander Jay Esperance observed, “Overwhelmingly, this community’s encouragement is apparent to our firefighters.”

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The fire has been burning about 8 miles southwest of Rifle since late Saturday, after a series of thunderstorms passed through the area with extensive lightning. An official cause still has not been released, though.

"South of Houston Mountain, crews have constructed fireline and are working toward North Mamm Peak," according to the Friday update. "Along the fire’s west edge, crews are reinforcing dozer line between Cache Creek Road and Battlement Trail.

"Crews have constructed containment line and placed hose along the north flank; burnout operations may occur today as conditions permit."

The potential for spotting was expected to be reduced today with increased cloud cover and rains passing through, but tree torching is still likely within the fire’s perimeter, fire officials said.

"Heavy smoke may be visible as far east as Glenwood Springs," they said.

Temperatures were expected to reach only the upper 70s today with winds of 5-10 mph, and humidity in the mid-20s. There's a chance for thunderstorms mid-day and later this afternoon.

"Thunderstorms may bring dangerous lightning, localized rain, and outflow wind gusts of up to 35 mph," according to the latest weather advisory from fire officials.

Pre-evacuations remain in place along Battlement Creek Reservoir Road and portions of Cache Creek Road. For specific information about Cache Creek Fire evacuations, call (970) 665-0207.

An emergency area closure remains in effect for parts of the Rifle Ranger District of the White River National Forest. Information at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6052  or https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/whiteriver/notices/?cid=STELPRDB5176138.