Pine Gulch Fire's rapid growth rate drops, burning only 38 acres in past 24 hours

Firefighters moping up at Pine Gulch Fire_August 2020
Posted at 10:33 AM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 12:47:33-04

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The Pine Gulch Fire grew just 38 acres on Wednesday, mostly due to strong and extensive containment lines, according to fire officials.

It is now 135,958 acres and 53% contained, according to the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team. The fire was 135,920 on Wednesday morning.

It remains the second largest wildfire in Colorado history.

A thunderstorm moved over the eastern side on Wednesday, which resulted in a brief Flash Flood Warning in the area. More storms are expected Thursday, bringing possible wind gusts up to 40 mph.

The next few days have higher chances of rainfall, which, while good for helping extinguish the fire, will bring a threat of flash flooding and debris flow.

The Pine Gulch Fire's spread should stay minimal on Thursday as well, the team reported, though the interior will continue burning, particularly on the west side of the fire.

Pine Gulch Fire map_Aug 26 2020

On Thursday, operations will continue to complete secondary containment lines along the north edge of the fire. More primary containment lines were added along the northern edge, bringing the total containment to 53%, the team reported.

These lines have were successful along the northeastern, eastern and southeastern edges of the fire, enough so that firefighters have started to backhaul unneeded equipment and some personnel will be released to go to other wildfires in the state.

In more good news, the southern side of the fire hasn't shown any indication it will or can jump the containment lines, the team said.

The western side of the fire remains uncontained, but crews are able to work in patrol and monitor status.

The incident management team said the Pine Gulch Fire has been shifting from fire suppression efforts to suppression repair, which involves minimizing damage to soil, water and other resources needed for fire suppression.

The fire started on July 31 about 18 miles north of Grand Junction. It was sparked by lightning.

The state's 10 largest fires in history, ranked by acreage, are:
1. Pine Gulch Fire (2020): 135,958 acres
2. Hayman Fire (2002): 137,760 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. Bridger Fire (2008): 45,800 acres
8. Last Chance Fire (2012): 45,000 acres
9. Bear Springs/Callie Marie fires (2011): 44,662 acres
10. 117 Fire (2018): 42,795 acres
Note: The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center said the West Fork Complex fire, which burned a total of 109,632 acres in 2013, is not included on this list since it involved three separate fires.

The following roads are under evacuation orders:

  • 4A Ridge Road/County Road 256
  • Salt Wash (205), King Road/County Road 258
  • Clear Creek Road/County Road 211
  • Carr Creek Road/County Road 207
  • Kimball Creek Road/County Road 202

A pre-evacuation order is in effect for:

  • All residents of Garfield County west of CO-139 to the Utah border
  • Any formerly evacuated residents

Click here for details on evacuations in Garfield County. There are no pre-evacuation or evacuation orders in Mesa County.

In addition to evacuations, there are road closures around the fire as well, including:

  • Roan Creek Road/County Road 204 at North Dry Fork/County Road 20
  • The V 2/10 Road at the 44 Road
  • Coal Canyon Road just past the Cameo Shooting Range
  • 21 Road north of the Bureau of Land Management boundary
  • 16 Road at V 8/10 Road
  • Q 5/10 Road is closed at 18 Road
  • Bureau of Land Management lands north of Loma, Fruita, Grand Junction, and Palisade

Douglas Pass reopened Tuesday evening. Travelers should prepare for slower speed limits and possible closures in the future.