Wildfire burning near Glenwood
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A wind-whipped fire spread quickly Monday afternoon in the Canyon Creek area west of Glenwood Springs.
Garfield County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Tanny McGinnis said the New Castle Fire was caused by a lightning strike Sunday evening at about 9 p.m. High winds Monday afternoon quickly brought it up to 275 acres.
Incident commanders called for a mandatory evacuation of the Canyon Creek drainage, involving about 30 homes, and left open the possibility of mandatory evacuations of Canyon Creek Estates and Canyon Creek subdivision.
The evacuation location is Riverside Middle School in New Castle, and Colorado Animal Rescue will temporarily house small animals from the fire area.
The sheriff ordered a voluntary evacuation of homes in the Canyon Creek area at about 4:30 p.m. Residents were contacted by telephone through the reverse-911 automatic dialing process.
As of 4:40 p.m., the fire was burning eastward roughly paralleling Interstate 70. Highway 6 was closed between the Canyon Creek exit on Interstate 70 and the New Castle exit.
McGinnis said the fire was burning on private land and spreading north and eastward. “It’s moving quickly,” she said.
“We’re struggling to get equipment here,” McGinnis said, because firefighters and equipment were spread among other fires in the region.
At least 50 firefighters were on the scene Monday, including 20 personnel from Burning Mountains Fire Department, a helitack crew and a type III crew. On site are three heavy air tankers and a helicopter battling the flames from the air, as well as several trucks.
There was no containment estimate as of Monday night.
An intense electrical storm Sunday night triggered about 50 lightning strikes between Grand Junction and Canyon Creek.
“It seems like every one started a fire, some of them in single trees and some of them quite large,” said Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Mel Lloyd. One of them, the Whitaker Flats Fire in the Bookcliffs north of Cameo, grew from 400 acres to about 900 acres by late afternoon, according to an Associated Press report.
Another fire started as a result of Sunday night’s lightning three miles east of Battlement Mesa on Morrisania Mesa. The Cottonwood Fire threatened five homes Sunday and one home was evacuated. However, the evacuation order was rescinded on Monday, said BLM spokesman David Boyd.
By Monday afternoon, the Cottonwood Fire had burned 4 acres. A total of 50 firefighters were called out, including the Craig Hot Shot crew. A helicopter and air tanker were pouring water and slurry on the fire.
“It is not contained, but is not burning any new ground,” Boyd said. “We are working on containing it and hitting the hot spots.”
A lightning strike also ignited two trees north of Grand Junction, but that fire was reported as out on Monday.
Lloyd said three air tankers and two helicopters were fighting the Whitaker Flats Fire as of Monday afternoon. Road access is from the town of DeBeque. “It takes about four hours to get to the fire from DeBeque,” she said, and firefighters were en route Monday with high winds in the afternoon forecast.
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Don’t freak out if you see helicopters hovering over the Roaring Fork Valley backcountry or fixed-wing aircraft making repeated trips. It is part an annual wildlife study by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.