Latest Updates: Pine Gulch Fire 100% contained

Local

August 7th

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KDVR) — The Pine Gulch fire has grown to more than 139,007 acres as of Saturday, making it the largest wildfire in Colorado history. It is burning about 18 miles north of Grand Junction in Mesa and Garfield counties. It started July 31 and was caused by lightning. Click here for updates from the Bureau of Land Management.

UPDATE (Sept. 23, 4:30 p.m.): The fire is now 100% contained, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

“The BLM Grand Junction Field Office still has a closure order in place for the perimeter of the fire while post-fire efforts continue. Local BLM staff in coordination with the Burned Area Emergency Team will continue to develop plans for emergency stabilization and rehabilitation to the burned area,” officials said in a statement.

UPDATE (Sept. 12, 11:35 a.m.): No fire growth is expected outside the fire perimeter.

“Very isolated heat sources may still be present in very sheltered heavy fuels,” officials said.

Warmer and drier conditions are expected in the coming days.

UPDATE (Sept. 11, 12:40 p.m.): Precipitation has significantly impacted the fire; there are no areas of concern for fire behavior, perimeter growth or fire spread.

A Burned Area Emergency Response Team is using remote sensing and field observations to gather data to evaluate post-fire effects and recommend actions.

The Southern Area Red Team will return management of the incident back to local agencies Saturday morning.

UPDATE (Sept. 10, 10:57 p.m.): A significant portion of Bureau of Land Management lands in the area are closed. A full description of the closed areas can be found online.

UPDATE (Sept. 10, 8:10 a.m.): Another 0.1 inches of rain fell on the Pine Gulch Fire yesterday, making total rainfall since Tuesday about one inch. Wet weather has increased confidence in fire containment and management, so many firefighters and pieces of firefighting equipment have been released from the fire. The remaining focus of the incident is suppression repair, ensuing actions taken to fight the fire, such as building firelines, do not have long-lasting impacts to natural resources. This work will be managed by a smaller incident management team beginning Saturday.

UPDATE (Sept. 9, 8:45 a.m.): With the help of yesterday’s cold and wet weather, containment for the Pine Gulch Fire is approaching 100%.

Cloudy skies today are expected to help, allowing firefighters more opportunities to suppress fire in the uncontained areas and the interior.

Priority area for remaining work include the Douglas Pass area pm the west side of the fire including Highway 139, Barrel Springs Road and County Road 256. In the interior, the priority is the Lonesome Ridge area.

UPDATE (Sept. 8, 10:30 p.m.): Containment of the fire has increased to 95%. Many parts of the fire received between .5 and .75 inches of rain, while high-elevation areas received between 1 and 4 inches of snow.

UPDATE (Sept. 8, 10:05 a.m.): Colorado is in the midst of a wintery storm, with gusty wind accompanied by snow and rain in different areas of the state.

In the area where the Pine Gulch fire is located, this could result in debris slides, especially on roads are where brush has been cleared.

Firefighters are paying close attention to the northwest area of the fire aloing Highway 139 and County Road 266.

In other areas of the fire, work is being done along suppression lines to protect the environment and return it to a more natural state.

Today’s weather will help the repair work by dampening soil that was loose so heavy equipment can repair roads easier.

UPDATE (Sept. 7, 1:15 p.m.): A wind shift today is expected to bring smoke from pockets burning within the fire containment line to areas where it hasn’t been in the air recently.

The change comes with a cold front, which will bring rain and snow to the fire area. These wet conditions may prevent firefighters and equipment from accessing the interior flare ups. Overall, however, cooler temperatures and moisture should help with the fire suppression.

UPDATE (Sept. 6, 3:27 p.m.): Drivers on Highway 139 in the Douglas Pass area should use caution as firefighting equipment and personnel will be in the area.

A warming and drying trend caused several areas of heat within containment lines to flare up yesterday and will be likely again today.  

Firefighters are monitoring one of the flare ups but it poses no threat to containment lines, which are well fortified. Firefighters will also monitor an area on the east side of the fire near Pedigo Gulch, north of the Garfield/Mesa county line east of Horse Mountain.

There is a Red Flag Warning in effect from noon until 9 p.m. on Monday as winds pick up and threaten the spread of the fire.

Check out the latest incident map for the Pine Gulch Fire.

UPDATE (Sept. 5, 11:10 p.m.): The number of personnel on the fire was reduced from 436 to 405. There was no report of any growth on the fire or containment today.

UPDATE (Sept 5, 7:56 p.m.): Officials are warning drivers to take extra caution when driving up the 139 over Douglas Pass over the holiday weekend as they will have heavy equipment in the area.

UPDATE (Sept. 5, 11:48 a.m.): Warm, dry conditions are creating active fire conditions. However, officials say no fire growth is expected outside of containment lines.

The number of people assigned to the fire has dropped from 600 to 436.

UPDATE (Sept. 4, 10:27 a.m.): As the holiday weekend begins, just a reminder that Mesa County, Garfield County and the Bureau of Land Management are all under Stage 2 Fire Restrictions.

Crews continue to haul out heavy equipment as parts of the fire die down and firefighters mop up the southern rim of the East Salt Creek main canyon. Small areas of heat still persist in the northwest side of the fire in Munger Creek and East Salt Creek.

As the fire continues to reach full containment, fire personnel are being released and equipment is being transported to other areas in need. Assessing and repairing damage from fire suppression continues throughout the fire perimeter and interior.

Law enforcement officers will escort heavy equipment moving along Highway 139 near Douglas Pass, so motorists may experience delays today. 

UPDATE (Sept. 4, 10:07 a.m.): The latest incident map for the Pine Gulch Fire has been published.

UPDATE (Sept. 3, 10:58 p.m.): Containment increased today from 83% to 87%. According to officials, 600 people are assigned to the fire.

UPDATE (Sept. 3, 10:40 a.m.): Hand crews are working along the southern rim of the East Salt Creek main canyon while monitoring hot spots on the northwest side of the fire.

As repairs continue to damage caused by the fire suppression efforts, crews will be working to spread piled up dirt and vegetation and mulching cut brush and limbs. Law enforcement will be escorting heavy equipment crews along Highway 139 near Douglas Pass, so traffic delays are possible.

UPDATE (Sept. 2, 10:55 p.m.): With highs in the 80s and 90s forecast alongside low relative humidity, officials say there are concerns about increased fire weather this weekend.

UPDATE (Sept. 2, 1:48 p.m.): Firefighters are continuing to mop up and monitor the fire around the exterior.

During an aerial assessment, crews saw the fire backing down in interior isolated areas. Creeping and smoldering were also seen in other areas. Hand crews and engines were sent to these areas and worked to cool the area.

No more perimeter growth is expected at this time, but vegetation will continue to burn in the interior.

UPDATE (Sept. 1, 6:12 p.m.): According to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, all evacuation and pre-evacuation orders have been lifted.

UPDATE (Sept. 1, 10:02 a.m.): Firefighters are mostly on patrol and mop up operations at this point.

Winds did cause some interior spots to flare up Monday, but managers say these spots did not threaten the firelines. Firefighters on the ground and in the air will continue to monitor these spots and the containment lines.

Suppression repair on the east side of the fire is almost complete, and some equipment and personnel are being moved to the northwest corner to work on repairs there.

UPDATE (Aug. 31, 11:41 p.m.): The fire has not been reported as growing but the containment has increased to 81%. The number of personnel working on the fire decreased to 629 from 686.

UPDATE (Aug. 31, 11:25 a.m.): The operations team responsible for the Pine Gulch Fire said the focus has now turned to repairing damage caused by fire suppression activities. The goal is to return the land to pre-fire conditions. The speed of the work will depend on how accessible the areas are for heavy equipment.

Areas needed for access by oil and gas companies as well as areas used by hunters will be prioritized.

Infrared cameras still show hot spots on the interior of the fire and near the fire line, so firefighters are prepared to douse any flames that pop up.

UPDATE (Aug. 30, 9:41 p.m.): Authorities working on the Pine Gulch Fire show how crews handle the enormous amounts of hoselay that comes back into camp after weeks of active fire suppression and structure protection.

UPDATE (Aug. 30, 4:38 p.m.): Evacuations and pre-evacuations have changed. In Garfield County, 4A Ridge Road (256), Salt Wash (205), King Road (258), Clear Creek Road (211), Carr Creek Road (207), Kimball Creek Road (202). Any formerly evacuated residents are to remain in pre-evacuation. There are currently no evacuations in Mesa County.

Firefighters continue to improve and monitor firelines, protect and assess structures, and protect oil and gas resources, range allotments and sage grouse habitat. They are improving firelines along the northwest side of the fire along Highway 139 and Road 266 and monitoring lines along Road 204 and Roan Creek on the northern edge of the fire.

Road closures include: Generally described as BLM-managed lands north of Loma, Fruita, Grand Junction and Palisade, starting at the base of the Bookcliffs, including the campground in the North Fruita Desert SRMA; west and north of De Beque on South Shale Ridge to County Road 204 and 209, from this point, west to County Road 256 to Douglas Pass on Hwy 139, south on Hwy 139 east to the base of the Bookcliffs. Mount Garfield hiking trail remains open to foot travel. The Cameo gate allowing access up Coal Canyon is open, V 2/10 Road is open to Corcoran Peak, and County Road 209 is open. County Road 256 east of Douglas Pass remains closed. 

UPDATE (Aug. 29, 11:08 p.m.): The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team is transferring management of Pine Gulch Fire to the Southern Area Red Team.

UPDATE (Aug. 29, 7:55 p.m.): Authorities break down how to read a fire map with explanation of symbols and the meaning behind them.

UPDATE (Aug. 29, 3:52 p.m.): Officials said that despite increased humidity, fuels are “highly receptive and will support active fire behavior.”

The last containment update remains at 77%.

UPDATE (Aug. 28, 10:45 p.m.): The chance for rain showers and thunderstorms continues Saturday. Temperatures will be in the 80s. A cold front is expected to arrive Monday.

UPDATE (Aug. 28, 10:05 a.m.): Members of the Southern Area Type 1 Red Team are arriving in Colorado to shadow the Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team as they work toward a transition this weekend.

As more of the fire gets contained, Garfield County has removed its pre-evacuation orders and the Bureau of Land Management has reduced some of the closures in the area.

The fire is not expected to spread outside of the current perimeter today, but unburned fuel is expected to continue in areas where the fire has been burning.

Because of the level of containment, many of the resources are expected to be demobilized and sent to other fires where the need is greater. This includes ending all overnight operations.

UPDATE (Aug. 27, 8:24 p.m.): The fire has burned 139,006 acres, making it the largest wildfire in Colorado history. Containment has increased to 77%.

UPDATE (Aug. 27, 9:06 a.m.): Throughout the entire day Wednesday, managers say the Pine Gulch fire only grew by 38 acres. The fire’s spread is expected to be limited again today as well.

Crews have had a “highly successful” effort to build a direct control line in the East Salt Creek area. They will now begin working on secondary lines north of there.

Because of the lack of growth and positive containment numbers, some personnel and heavy equipment will be released to to help at other fires in the region.

Managers said the focus is now switching from fire suppression to suppression repair.

“Suppression repair involves actions that help minimize damage to soil, water, and other resources directly attributable to fire suppression activities,” a note from managers explained.

UPDATE (Aug. 27, 4:35 a.m.): The Illinois Nature Conservancy has been in Colorado helping fight the Pine Gulch Fire.

UPDATE (Aug. 26, 11:35 p.m.): Containment of the fire has grown from 47% to 53%.

UPDATE (Aug. 26, 11:30 a.m.): Our sister station KREX got an exclusive look at the Pine Gulch fire, which remains the second largest wildfire in Colorado history.

“It’s in a good place, all the work had been done to secure it,” said Jacob Welsh of the eastern portion of the Pine Gulch Fire. Welsh is a spokesperson with the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team, the agency in charge of the firefighting effort. “We’ve built fire lines to prevent it from spreading.”

UPDATE (Aug. 25, 11 p.m.): The fire grew about 1,000 acres today to 135,903. Containment remains at 47%. The number of personnel increased slightly to 935.

UPDATE (Aug. 25, 11 p.m.): The fire grew about 1,000 acres today to 135,903. Containment remains at 47%. The number of personnel increased slightly to 935.

Reporter Alex Rose learned that some local firefighters are returning home after spending several weeks fighting the flames.

UPDATE (Aug. 25, 2:56 p.m.): The number of people assigned to fighting the fire has grown from 907 to 932.

UPDATE (Aug. 25, 9:43 a.m.): The fire grew to 134,999 acres on Tuesday morning with 47% containment.

UPDATE (Aug. 25, 4:33 a.m.): North Metro Fire said it moved to the head of the fire on the northwest side and are working with the Baker River Hotshots to prep a contingency line should the fire reach their area.

UPDATE (Aug. 24, 8:33 p.m.): The fire is now at 134,108 acres and is 47% contained.

UPDATE (Aug. 24, 9:20 a.m.): The fire grew to 133,783 acres on Monday morning with 44% containment.

According to incident commander Dan Dallas, fire behavior is expected to be moderate today, but passing storms have the potential for winds that could cause growth along the north, west and south sides.

The entire eastern side is considered contained at this time, as is part of the north side and a portion on the southwest corner.

UPDATE (Aug. 24, 4:20 a.m.): The fire is now 129,715 acres with 44% containment.

UPDATE (Aug. 23, 7:53 p.m.): According to the incident information, the containment of the fire has increased to 44% as of Sunday evening.

UPDATE (Aug. 23, 2:37 p.m.): The Pine Gulch Fire is at 129,715 acres and is 19% contained. Smoke will continue Sunday morning across portions of central and western Colorado especially in the Grand Valley including Loma, Fruita and Grand Junction. Check out the latest map.

UPDATE (Aug. 22, 9:10 p.m.): A breakdown of the status of the land after a wildfire.

UPDATE (Aug. 22, 4:08 p.m.): The Pine Gulch Fire has an interactive Storymap to help stay updated on the progress of the fire.

UPDATE (Aug. 21, 8:38 p.m.): As of Friday evening, the Pine Gulch Fire is burning 125,191 acres with 19% containment.

UPDATE (Aug. 21, 5:25 p.m.): Firefighters working the Pine Gulch Fire want to thank those who have been offering financial support and other donations.

“While we appreciate the generosity of the community, the firefighters are well taken care of with food, water, and supplies,” a post on the Pine Gulch Fire Company Facebook page said.

If you’d like to show support, signs around town and comments on Facebook are appreciated.

UPDATE (Aug, 21, 10:22 a.m.): Haze and smoke will continue across central and western Colorado, especially in the Grand Valley. Northwest winds are expected to continue into the afternoon with gusts up to about 14 mph. The smoke could cause reduced visibility on roadways, so if you’re driving in the area use extra caution.

Most of yesterday’s activity was on the south side of the fire near the Hunter Burn scar. Storm cells over the fire and outflow winds bushed the fire east toward the dozer line, which is still holding.

If conditions allow, firefighters will perform burning operations in the coming days to keep the fire east of Douglas Pass. Fire managers said if the fire gets to this area, weather conditions and the terrain could lead to growth.

UPDATE (Aug, 21, 8:30 a.m.): The fire has grown to 124,934 acres with 17% containment as of Friday morning.

UPDATE (Aug, 20, 10:19 p.m.): The fire’s acreage increased slightly to 122,550. However, containment also grew from 14% to 17%. There are now 893 people assigned to fighting the fire.

UPDATE (Aug, 20, 4:08 p.m.): The Pine Gulch Fire remains with fire crews working overnight; these teams are patrolling control lines and monitoring fire behavior during the night. They will implement suppression and protection efforts as necessary. The glow of the night fire can be visible even in Grand Junction.

UPDATE (Aug. 20, 12:31 p.m.): New measurements of the Pine Gulch Fire have the number of acres it’s covered down to 121,781. The fire has not shrunk, the incident management team says, instead they have been able to get a more accurate measurement of the area.

Today’s main concern will be storm cells moving over the are during the afternoon and the potential for dry lighting. Additionally, outflow winds could reach gusts of 45 mph.

According to the latest update from the management team, the control line on the fire’s northeast edge continues to hold well.

“Firefighters have had great success in preventing the fire from crossing the 204 Rd. Divisions Z and A remain in patrol and monitor status. Firefighters are mopping up and securing the fire’s edge and expect to achieve more containment soon.”

UPDATE (Aug. 20, 4:19 a.m.): The Denver Fire Department shared new photos from the Pine Gulch Fire. Several firefighters from DFD are helping fight the fire.

UPDATE (Aug. 19, 11:12 p.m.): The official acreage currently stands at 125,252. The fire is now 14% contained. Officials say 872 people are assigned to fighting the fire.

UPDATE (Aug. 19, 4:15 p.m.): Evacuation orders are now going into effect for areas on the northwest side of Pine Gulch Fire, as follows:

  • From the Mesa County line north to the east/west Colorado Highway 256 (Four A Ridge Road) including north/south CO Hwy 256. 256/205 moving from pre-evacuation to full evacuation.
  • From Highway 139 Douglas Pass road east to the preexisting evacuation order for Carr Creek Road (207). This includes CO Hwy 205 Salt Wash and Kimball Creek Road (202) on Kimball Mountain.
    CO Hwy 258/King Road is evacuated.

Still under evacuation also: Roan Creek Road (CR 204) above Brush Creek Road (CR 209).

  • Everything west of Douglas Pass (CO Hwy 139) to the Utah state line will now be in pre-evacuation.
  • People allowed to return home yesterday remain in pre-evacuation.
  • CO 139 north of Lima, Douglas Pass is closed due to Pine Gulch Fire, from mile point 6 to mile point 39.

UPDATE (Aug. 19, 1 p.m.): South Metro Fire Rescue shared new video Wednesday afternoon of the Wildland Team viewing extreme fire behavior while supporting what they call, “burnout operations.”

UPDATE (Aug. 19, 10:45 a.m.): During the overnight hours, the Pine Gulch Fire meteorologists notified night shift firefighters of a thunderstorm cell moving over the fire and coming into alignment with terrain at the western fire edge. Strong outflow winds from this cell aligned with drainages in the Echo Lake area and gusted up to 40 mph over a three-to-four-hour period. While all firefighters were able to get to safety and endure this weather event, it created extreme and erratic fire behavior, causing significant growth. 

UPDATE (Aug. 19, 9:40 a.m.): The Pine Gulch Fire grew more than 40,000 acres overnight, making it the second-single largest wildfire in Colorado. According to an update on Twitter, the fie is now 125,108 acres.

UPDATE (Aug. 19, 4:20 a.m.): Dry lighting caused ash to fall in Grand Junction overnight. Frequent dry lighting, caused by the fire, is possible again Wednesday afternoon, which could spark additional wildfires.

UPDATE (Aug. 18, 11:22 p.m.): As of tonight, about 20 additional personnel are fighting the fire. The total number of people assigned to the fire now stands at 892.

UPDATE (Aug. 18, 7:56 p.m.): The fire’s acreage has grown to 87,778 — making it the third-largest single wildfire in Colorado history after the Hayman Fire (2002) and Spring Creek Fire (2018).

UPDATE (Aug. 18, 6:10 p.m.): Evacuations are lifted for Pine Gulch Fire area residents along County Road 204 who live below Clear Creek Road. A few residences on side roads off of CR 204 may not have power until tomorrow, as crews continue to restore and re-energize the power lines. CR 204 is open to residents only to Brush Creek Road or CR 209. The community dumpster for food disposal is behind Cowboy Chapel on Clear Creek. Returning residents will still remain on pre-evac in the event that further evacuations are needed.

Remaining in evacuation are County Road 204 residents above County Road 209, as well as County Road 207 and 202/Kimball Creek Road above the 5.5 mile marker.

Earlier today, at the Pine Gulch Fire, there was a spot fire in the northwest corner that quickly grew to 100+ acres. This fire expansion could adversely affect area residents.

A pre-evacuation order has been issued for the areas of County Road 205, Kimball Mountain Road and CR 256 in between Kimball Mountain road and Browns Point.

UPDATE (Aug. 18, 12:40 p.m.): The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said evacuations have been lifted for people on CR 204 (Roan Creek Road) to CR 209 (Brush Creek Road). Residents will be allowed to return home once the power company can assure power lines in the area are safe.

Evacuations remain in place off CR 211 (Clear Creek Road), CR 207 (Carr Creek Road), and County Road 202. The Pine Gulch fire is currently over 85,000 acres with 7% containment, making it the fourth largest fire in Colorado’s history.

Picture is from 204 Road looking at Kimball Mountain.

UPDATE (Aug. 18, 11:36 a.m.): New information from the Pine Gulch Fire Information Office lists the wildfire at 87,209 acres, just 75 acres shy of 2012’s High Park Fire in Roosevelt National Forest.

This afternoon, winds are expected to be out of a north/northwest direction, which means people living south and southeast of the fire can expect heavy smoke. Health officials issued a reminder that if you can smell smoke then you are breathing smoke.

Because the winds are aligning with drainage areas around the fire, the incident management team expects it to be a challenging day.

UPDATE (Aug. 18, 4:05 a.m.): The Pine Gulch Fire is currently at 86,120 acres and is 7% contained. Firefighters made significant progress along CR 204 in the NW part of the fire, and they will continue to patrol, monitor, and implement point protection strategies as needed.

UPDATE (Aug. 17, 6:56 p.m.): In Monday’s update, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said evacuations for homes from Roan Creek Rd 204 up through Brush Creek Road 209 should be lifted by tomorrow afternoon and residents can get back in their homes. He also said for those residents to stay prepared in case they have to evacuate again.

He also said that there will be travel a travel restriction in place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and encouraged people to stay home. Other dangers like downed power lines and possible flareups on the road are more reasons to avoid unnecessary travel, he said.

The team discussed how the primary focus is the southwest corner of the fire. They said the fire perimeter along 204 seems to have calmed down so now they are focusing on the northwest corner where critical operations have been happening.

UPDATE (Aug. 17, 12:45 p.m.): The Bureau of Land Management is expected to provide a live update on this fire at 6 p.m. You can watch that live in the FOX31 News App or on KDVR.com when it begins.

UPDATE (Aug. 17, 9:20 a.m.): The Pine Gulch Fire is at 85,407 acres as of Monday morning with 7 percent containment.

UPDATE (Aug. 16, 3:50 p.m.): The Pine Gulch Fire is at 81,107 acres as of Sunday morning. Garfield County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation order for residents on Roan Creek Road, Clear Creek Road, Carr Creek Road and Brush Creek Road.

UPDATE (Aug. 15, 4:04 p.m.): Fire activity has picked up on the southwestern portion of the Pine Gulch Fire due to a wind shift. The fire is burning very actively near Garfield Mesa and the V 8/10 Road. Firefighters are being supported with air tankers dropping retardant. 

UPDATE (Aug. 15, 9 a.m.): The fire has grown to 74,807 acres. Containment remains at 7%.

UPDATE (Aug. 14, 10:46 p.m.): The fire’s size is currently estimated at 73,713 acres. Containment is at 7%. Officials say 757 people are assigned to the fire.

UPDATE (Aug. 14, Noon): Gov. Polis toured the Grizzly Creek Fire Friday before heading off the the Pine Gulch Fire near Grand Junction. Polis thanked the 1,000+ men and women working to fight these wildfires.

“The Pine Gulch Fire could threaten Debeque although firefighters are hopeful that natural rocky barriers will delay or prevent it from reaching the town. The winds from the Northwest the next few days are also helping firefighters protect the Roan Creek Road area,” Polis said.

ORIGINAL: The Pine Gulch Fire burning north of Grand Junction has grown to 73,381 acres as of Friday morning, making it the fourth largest largest individual wildfire ever recorded in Colorado.

Colorado’s largest wildfire ever was the Hayman Fire in 2002, which scorched more than 137,000 acres.

The Pine Gulch fire is burning about 18 miles north of Grand Junction in Mesa and Garfield counties. It started July 31 and was caused by lightning.

Nearly 800 people are fighting the fire. It is currently 7% contained.

Crews are dealing with extremely challenging firefighting conditions.

“Critically dry fuels, severe drought conditions, critical fire weather creating extreme fire behavior are creating a high resistance to control,” officials said in an update.

More hot temperatures and low humidity are expected Friday.

On Sunday night, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation order for residents on Roan Creek Road, Clear Creek Road, Carr Creek Road and Brush Creek Road.
People who live on Garfield County Road 202 are also under an evacuation order.

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