Colorado wildfire update: Firefighters nervously watch forecast that calls for wind, lightning |

Colorado wildfire update: Firefighters nervously watch forecast that calls for wind, lightning

Editor’s note: This post was updated at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Firefighters across the state could catch a break this weekend with some rain, but storms rolling through the area Thursday and Friday are forecast to bring wind and dry lightning that could complicate firefighting efforts.

Before the rain falls this weekend, the National Weather Service in Grand Junction is forecasting high winds and low humidity in northwest Colorado. A red flag warning has been issued Friday for the Steamboat Springs area.

“A red flag warning … highlights the conditions that are conducive to extreme fire behavior,” said Norv Larson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Typically, those things are the combination of very dry fuels, low relative humidity and gusty winds that typically reach 25 miles per hour or higher.”

On Friday, there is a potential for thunderstorms producing dry lightning, which is when precipitation from a thunderstorm evaporates before it reaches the ground.

“That brings obviously a heightened potential for fire starts,” Larson said.

Remnants of Tropical Storm Bud are forecast to roll through the area Saturday. The forecast is calling for one-10th to one-quarter inch of rain in Steamboat with more possible in the surrounding mountains.

“That’s certainly going to help the outlook with respect to fire conditions,” Larson said.

Wildfire danger is rated as extreme or very high across most of the state, including in Routt County, where fire danger was recently upgraded to very high. At least seven wildfires are burning across Colorado, and one is approaching the state line in Wyoming, where one home and two other structures have burned. In Utah, a fast-moving brush fire destroyed eight homes Tuesday night in Moab.

The many fires burning across Colorado are impacting tourism in the state, especially in southern Colorado, where San Juan National Forest, Purgatory Resort and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad have all closed. Many cities have also canceled Fourth of July fireworks displays. There are no fires burning here in Routt County, but the city of Steamboat Springs has solidified its fireworks backup plan: a laser light show at Howelsen Hill the evening of July Fourth.

Update on wildfires burning across Colorado

The Wyoming Hotshots work with the Snake River and Idaho City hotshots to burn a pice of ground from the back edge of the fire to protect the narrow gauge Silverton railroad tracks on June 5, 2018. (Kyle Miler, Wyoming Hotshots)

416 Fire

• Size: 29,147
• Containment: 15 percent
• Location: 13 miles north of Durango
• Start date: June 1
• Cause: unknown
• More info:
• Photos:

The 416 fire in southwestern Colorado has cost $10 million to suppress, so far.

The fire, which is 15 percent contained and burning north of Durango in the San Juan National Forest, has not burned any structures, nor has it injured anyone, fire officials said Wednesday. No deaths have been reported. More than 1,000 firefighters were battling the blaze Wednesday.

Some of the more than 2,000 residential evacuees from the fire were allowed home Wednesday, including residents from the Tamarron, Glacier Club & Rockwood areas.

With fire conditions already at historically dangerous levels in southwest Colorado, firefighters are nervously watching a forecast that calls for an approaching lightning storm that could spark new fires and bring strong winds that could push the 416 fire into neighborhoods north of Durango.

Read the full story at

Badger Creek Fire

• Size: 11,021 acres
• Containment: zero
• Location: Snowy Range and Medicine Bow National Forests, Wyoming (Evacuations have extended to the Colorado state line.)
• Start date: June 10
• Cause: unknown
• More info:
• Photos:

Structures have been destroyed in the fast-moving wildfire burning just north of the Wyoming border.

The U.S. Forest Service has not disclosed how many structures were lost or if any homes were destroyed in the Badger Creek Fire in the Medicine Bow National Forest.

“We can’t say anything because the sheriff is still making notifications,” Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos said. “There are a variety of communities that have been evacuated that the fire has not reached yet.”

Smoke from the fire has been visible from northern parts of Routt County.

Read the full story here.

The Burro Fire is burning in a remote area of the San Juan National Forest, about 23 miles east of Dolores. (Emily Rice/The Journal)

Burro Fire

• Size: 2,829 acres
• Containment: zero
• Location: San Juan National Forest
• Start date: June 8
• Cause: under investigation
• More info:
• Photos:

The Mancos State Park on Wednesday announced a partial closure of its campgrounds because of fire risk, even as the Burro Fire’s growth slowed down slightly in the morning.

Patrick Seekins, of the Dolores Ranger District, said the wildfire burning northeast of Dolores in the Bear Creek area grew about 200 acres Tuesday night, reaching 2,829 acres by Wednesday morning. Crews were continuing to establish a dozer line along the south side of the fire and were scouting for opportunities to secure the fire’s north and west edges. As of Wednesday, no structures or private property had been damaged.

Read the full story at

Horse Park Fire

• Size: 1,221 acres
• Containment: 90 percent
• Location: 15 miles southwest of Norwood
• Start date: May 26
• Cause: lightning
• More info:
• Photos:

Fourmile Fire north of Craig

Fourmile Fire

• Size: 500 acres
• Containment: 100 percent
• Location: 23 miles north of Craig
• Start date: June 12
• Cause: unknown

On Tuesday, multiple wildfires closed Colorado Highway 13 about 23 miles north of Craig, near milepost 115, and forced the evacuation of one family living in the area. Multiple fast-moving fires that ignited in sagebrush burning near the highway forced law enforcement to close the roadway for about five hours.

The Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, Craig Fire/Rescue, Colorado Department of Transportation, Yampa Valley Electric Association, and the Bureau of Land Management all responded, as well as volunteer crews from Wyoming’s Baggs and Encampment. BLM assumed command of the response and brought in helicopter air support.

The fire was about 80 percent contained Tuesday and full containment was expected by Wednesday.

Bocco Fire

• Size: 415 acres
• Containment: 50 percent
• Location: 3 miles northwest of Wolcott
• Start date: June 9
• Cause: unknown
• More info:
• Photos:

Crews continued mop-up efforts throughout the day Monday. Despite warm, dry and breezy conditions, there was minimal fire activity, with some smoking and smoldering within the interior of the fire perimeter, said Incident Commander Jeremy Spetter.

“Smoke and dust will continue to be visible in the coming days,” Spetter said. “There are still smoldering hot spots within the fire perimeter that may continue to produce smoke; we are being very diligent with our work because of continued weather conditions.”

Read the full story at

A wildland firefighter works to contain the flames at the Buffalo Fire site Wednesday, June 13, near Silverthorne.

Buffalo Mountain Fire

• Size: 91 acres
• Containment: 20 percent
• Location: 2 miles west of Silverthorne
• Start date: June 12
• Cause: unknown
• More info:
• Photos:

The fire peaked at 91 acres and forced the evacuation of nearly 1,400 homes, but did not grow at all overnight and did not take lives or damage structures. However, the fire remains very much active, and officials are not taking any chances on lifting evacuation orders until they can make sure lives and homes are safe from danger.

Summit Fire Chief Jeff Berino said Wednesday night that lightning has been ruled out as a cause of the Buffalo Fire.

“Some type of human element is probably likely” as a cause, Berino said. An investigation is expected to take weeks to complete.

Read the full story at

Natty Fire

• Size: 79 acres
• Containment: 100 percent
• Location: Cannon City
• Start date: June 8
• Cause: lightning
• More info:
• Photos:

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