Crews attack fire near Cache Creek, southwest of Rifle
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
A fire burning on U.S. Forest Service land in the Cache Creek area southwest of Rifle grew to about 50 acres on Sunday, and federal firefighting crews continued an aggressive attack on the blaze that’s burning in heavy timber.
No structures were immediately threatened and no evacuations or road closures were necessary as the fire grew from about 5 acres early Sunday afternoon, according to a White River National Forest statement.
However, three structures and private oil and gas infrastructure are located approximately 2 miles north and downhill of the fire. Additional oil and gas infrastructure is located 2 miles to the east of the fire on private land.
“These areas are not threatened at this time,” according to an update sent out just before 8 p.m. Sunday. “Firefighters and district staff continue to work closely and coordinate with landowners and oil and gas companies in the area.”
The Cache Creek Fire, as it has been named, was initially called in at approximately 8:30 p.m. Saturday, and a cause has not yet been determined.
“Due to lack of visibility, crews began suppression operations on the fire early (Sunday) morning,” according to the statement.
The fire is burning about 8 miles southwest of Rifle in heavy dead and downed fuels in southern Garfield County.
“The fire is active and burning in steep and rugged terrain, and access for firefighters on the ground has been challenging,” the statement said. “Firefighters are working to establish a safe anchor point to work from.”
On Sunday, air resources concentrated efforts on the east and north flanks using a water-enhancing gel and water drops to check the spread of the fire, according to fire management officials.
The fire was reported to be actively burning and torching in heavy fuels, and spotting and growing to the east.
Two engines, two Type 2 hand crews, two Type 1 helicopters, one air attack platform and three Single Engine Air Tankers were working the fire into the evening Sunday.
Helicopters also were conducting water dips at Battlement Mesa Reservoir, and forest users were being advised to avoid the area while suppression operations are under way.
The Cache Creek Fire has transitioned from a type 4 to a type 3 incident command structure.
Forest Service officials expect to give another update on the fire today, and an Inciweb page has been established for the fire at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6052.
Smoke also will continue to be visible from the Interstate 70 corridor near Rifle, Parachute and Rulison. Persons are asked to not call 911.
For more information on how smoke may affect your health visit http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/colo_advisory.aspx.
Due to aerial operations, drones also are strictly prohibited in the area, the Forest Service advised.
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As most of western Colorado is in an extreme drought, most of eastern Colorado is experiencing moderate to severe drought.