Just as one wildfire near Rifle was close to containment, another started this afternoon.
Lee Ann Loupe with the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit (UCRI) says a new fire, called the Ward Gulch Fire, was discovered around 2:00 this afternoon burning on BLM land about three miles north of Rifle Gap State Park. Strong winds quickly spread the fire, estimated as 100-plus acres in size as of 7:00 tonight.
A federal Type-3 Incident Management Team is expected to take over the fire some time this evening or tomorrow morning.
So far, 2-Heavy Air Tankers, a Helicopter, 3-Single Engine Air Tankers, 6-UCRI engines and 3-Twenty Person hand crews have been fighting the fire, along with resources from Colorado River Fire Rescue. A “Very Large Air Tanker” has also been ordered from Pueblo.
State Highway 325 is closed both directions at Grass Valley Road (Garfield County Road 226). Members of the public are advised to avoid the area.
Campgrounds in the Rifle Creek Drainage have been evacuated. Loupe says officials have concerns for two structures, both of which are owned the Colorado Parks and Wildlife. She did not indicate concern for any other structures.
We will continue to update our website and facebook page as possible. The most up-to-the-minute information will be on the air: 99.1 from Canyon Creek to Aspen to Gypsum, 96.7 in Rifle, Silt and New Castle. You can also listen live online anywhere in the world. Click the ear lobe to the left on your pc, or use the “TuneIn Radio” app on your smart phone. (Smart phone users might also be able to use this link: http://rdo.to/KMTSFM)
Typically, fires lay down at night and winds decrease. If that is the case, there will not be a lot to report overnight, but we will continue to monitor this fire until crews get the upper hand.