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Firefighters face hot, windy conditions as they continue to fight 51,000-acre Pine Gulch Fire

Posted at 1:06 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 11:06:23-04

The Pine Gulch Fire is now the seventh largest wildfire in Colorado history at more than 51,000 acres, according to a Wednesday morning acreage update from fire officials.

The fire, which was sparked by a lightning strike on July 31 about 18 miles north of Grand Junction, had burned 51,455 acres as of Wednesday morning, according to the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team. It remains 7% contained. Nearly 600 fire personnel are working to further contain and extinguish the blaze.

Pine Gulch Fire grows to more than 36K acres

A red flag warning was in effect for the western side of the state due to the hot, dry and windy conditions Tuesday.

READ MORE: Red flag warnings in effect for Western Slope Tuesday; ozone action day alerts for Front Range

The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team said temperatures would reach the mid 80s Tuesday in the area of the fire with winds around 13 to 17 mph, with gusts up to 28 mph. The team said this could lead to “extreme, wind-driven fire behavior and high rates of spread.”

The fire moved up the south slope of Kimball Mountain Monday and then went down the Roan Creek drainage, Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team said. Crews worked Tuesday along Roan Creek Road/County Road 204 to lay down fire line since they anticipate the fire will try to progress north and northeast.

These crews also worked to protest structures in the area, as well as those around Clear Creek Road/County Road 211, Carr Creek Road/County Road 207 and Brush Creek Road/County Road 209.

In addition, the fire was active on the north side of Horse Mountain on Monday. Helicopters dropped water on the western end of North Dry Fork Road/County Road 200.

Aerial crews will continued to assist those on the ground this week.

At 51,455 acres, the Pine Gulch Fire is now the seventh largest fires in Colorado history.

The state's largest fires, ranked by acreage, are:
1. Hayman Fire (2002): 138,114 acres
2. West Fork Complex (2013): Several fires with a combined 109,632 acres
3. Spring Fire (2018): 108,045 acres
4. High Park Fire (2012): 87,284 acres
5. Missionary Ridge Fire (2002): 72,962 acres
6. 416 Fire (2018): 54,000 acres
7. Pine Gulch Fire (2020): 51,455 acres
8. Bridger Fire (2008): 45,800 acres
9. Last Chance Fire (2012): 45,000 acres
10. Bear Springs/Callie Marie fires (2011): 44,662 acres
11. 117 Fire (2018): 41,000 acres

There have been several evacuations for the Pine Gulch Fire, though no new orders have been announced since Sunday evening.

That day, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office ordered evacuations for residents on the following roads:
· Roan Creek Road/County Road 204 (road closure also in effect)
· Clear Creek Road/County Road 211
· Carr Creek Road/County Road 207
· Brush Creek Road/County Road 209

Residents on Kimball Creek Road/County Road 202 were evacuated on Saturday. Authorities have closed this road.

To learn more about these evacuations, click here.

Residents in the affected counties can sign up to receive alerts and new information on the fire here for Garfield County and here for Mesa County.