Moffat County wildfire triples in size overnight to nearly 17,000 acres |

Moffat County wildfire triples in size overnight to nearly 17,000 acres

Lauren Blair/Craig Daily Press

This Colorado fire map shows the approximate outline of the Dead Dog Fire as of Tuesday afternoon.

A massive wildfire continues to rage in western Moffat County near the Utah border, with high winds that tripled the fire size overnight to 16,470 acres as of about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Officials still have no containment estimate.

The Dead Dog Fire forced the evacuation of about 50 people from the nearby Deserado Mine Monday night on the fire’s eastern flank, according to Fire Information Officer Dawn Sanchez. Some personnel remained on scene to work to try to protect the mine from the encroaching flames.

Residents from the small community of Blue Mountain were allowed to return home Monday night after being evacuated that afternoon. The towns of Dinosaur and Rangely are not immediately threatened.

The Dead Dog Fire began Sunday on Bureau of Land Management Land about 10 miles north of Rangely and temporarily shut down U.S. Highway 40 between Dinosaur and Skull Creek Monday afternoon when it approached within a quarter mile of the road.

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The highway is back open, but several county roads in the area remain closed, including Rio Blanco County Road 1, also known as Blue Mountain Road.

More resources and fire crews have been called in to fight both the Dead Dog Fire and the Hunter Fire southwest of Meeker, which thus far appears to be holding at 1,063 acres since Sunday, Sanchez said.

Sanchez is part of Rocky Mountain Team Black, a Type 2 Incident Management Team that has taken over management of the fires Tuesday to free up local resources.

High winds continue to spread the flames Tuesday, with gusts up to 30 miles per hour predicted by the National Weather Service, despite cooler temperatures. The fire primarily is burning on BLM land and a small amount of private land, though officials have not yet been able to map the perimeter or exact measurements of the fire due to the high winds.

No cause has been determined.

A public meeting is being held in Rangely at 5:30 p.m. The Craig Daily Press will provide an update on the exact location as soon as that information is available.