The Ward Gulch Fire grew to 300 acres overnight, with evacuation orders still in place along State Highway 325 north of Grass Valley Road (Garfield County Road 226). The Rifle Fish Hatchery and Rifle Mountain Park are also evacuated at this time. The Red Cross has a shelter for displaced residents at the Garfield County Fairgrounds. Rifle Gap State Park is closed to boating and State Parks Officials are discouraging entry to the park at this time.
As of early this morning the Type-3 Incident Management Team is in charge of the fire, with a goal of preventing the fire’s spread to the northeast. Currently there are 4 hand crews working the fire, with more ordered, along with 2-Single Engine Air Tankers, 2-Helicopters, 2-Heavy Air Tankers, and several engines with crews.
Fire Information Officer, Pat Thrasher, says there are no direct threats to structures at this time, though fire officials are prepared to protect structures if they need to.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect from noon today until 8:00 tonight and there is a change of gusty winds this afternoon, so fire officials are concerned about the possibility of increased fire activity and the potential for new fires.
A public meeting is scheduled for 4:00 this afternoon at the Colorado River Fire Rescue Station at 1800 Railroad Avenue. An update will be given to people who have been evacuated and all members of the public are welcome.
Meanwhile, the Beaver Creek Fire south of Rifle is currently approximately 15 acres, with 100% containment expected early this afternoon.