RMIMT: Pine Gulch Fire at 125,000 acres

GCSO: ADDITIONAL EVACUATIONS ORDERED FOR PINE GULCH FIRE

8.19.20, 2:50 p.m. – Current evacuations in effect by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office – evacuation orders are now going into effect for areas on the northwest side of Pine Gulch Fire, as follows:

  • Evacuation orders are now going into effect for areas on the northwest side of Pine Gulch Fire.
  • Roan Creek Road (CR 204) above Brush Creek Road (CR 209).
  • Kimball Creek Road (CR 202) above the 5.5 mile marker.
  • Carr Creek Road (CR 207) above the 5.5 mile marker.
  • From the Mesa County line north to the east/west Colorado Highway 256 (Four A Ridge Road) including north/south CO Highway 256. Highways 256 and 205 moving from pre-evacuation to full evacuation.
  • From Highway 139 (Douglas Pass Road) east to the pre-existing evacuation order for Carr Creek Road (CR 207).
  • This includes CO Highway 205 Salt Wash and Kimball Creek Road (CR 202) on Kimball Mountain.
  • CO Highway 258 (King Road) is evacuated.

Pine Gulch Fire update
August 19, 2020 – 10 a.m.

Pine Gulch Fire statistics:
Size:
approximately 125,100 acres
Containment: 7%
Total personnel: 892
Location: Approximately 18 miles north of Grand Junction, CO
Reported: July 31, approximately 5:15 p.m.
Cause: Lightning

Special notes: Per Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, 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. For more info: www.garfieldcounty.net.

Evacuations have been lifted for Pine Gulch Fire area residents along CR 204 (Roan Creek Rd.) who live below Brush Creek Rd.

Current situation: During the overnight hours, the Pine Gulch Fire meteorologist 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. The total acreage on the Pine Gulch Fire is now estimated to be just over 125,000. Fire behavior specialists report that the combination of extremely dry fuels, low relative humidity, high temperatures, and terrain driven winds may continue to create extreme fire behavior that is resistant to suppression efforts. There is potential for similar thunderstorm cells to pass over the fire area this afternoon and into the night.

Fire managers have planned to extend pre-identified primary and alternate control lines to the north and west of the fire. They will be utilizing Hwy 139 and the existing roads to the northwest and north of the fire perimeter (256, 207, 209). Firefighters have been successfully preparing these roads over the past several days in the event they were needed. Firefighters will implement point protection on values that exist between the fire and the containment roads. Today, crews on the west will work to secure the fire’s edge. If fire behavior necessitates and conditions allow, crews will perform burning operations to remove fuel ahead of the fire front. Air resources will support firefighters on the ground as weather permits. Structure protection groups will begin assessing structures to the west and north of the fire. Overall priorities remain on protecting values and choosing control options that provide for the highest probability of success given expected fire behavior.

Yesterday in Division B on the south/southwest side, fire activity increased in Hunter Canyon. Fire behavior specialists note that this is beneficial; the fire will eliminate fuel and burn into natural features (the Hunter Fire burn scar and the Book Cliffs), thus containing itself. Crews have completed the indirect dozer line leading into the burn scar in this area. On the western side of Division B, fire became active yesterday, moving toward control lines. Firefighters utilized air tankers to drop retardant, slowing the fire’s advance and allowing them to perform successful burning operations that removed fuel ahead of the fire front.

Firefighters’ work is proving effective in Divisions A and Z on the east of the fire, where control line remains solid. The fire along the eastern perimeter has not advanced for days, and the area remains in patrol and monitor status. Pockets of unburned fuel in the interior may burn more actively today, so smoke may still be visible on the east side.

In Division K on the north, there is solid containment line running all along the north perimeter. Today, crews will improve this dozer line, plumb the area (lay down hoses and water supply) and begin mop-up efforts (using water and hand tools to continue cooling hot areas.)

Last night, the National Preparedness Level elevated to 5, the highest level, due to increasing fire activity across the country. This creates competition for resources. Pine Gulch Fire managers are strongly advocating for this fire’s needs; however, acquiring all needed resources remains a challenge.

Weather & fuel conditions: It will be another hot, dry day with highs in the low 90s and relative humidity10-12%. Winds will be out of the N to NW, with speeds of 5 to 9 mph and gusts up to 16 mph. High pressure remains, and there is a potential for thunderstorms starting around 2 p.m. with no precipitation predicted. Lightning is possible, and outflow winds could create strong gusts of 20-30 mph that contribute to more unpredictable and erratic fire behavior.

Evacuations: Garfield County: Carr Creek (207) road, CR 202. Pre-evacuations: the areas of County Road 205, Kimball Mountain Road and CR 256 in between Kimball Mountain Road and Browns Point. For more information: https://garfieldcounty.net/. Closures: Roan Creek Road (204) at North Dry Fork (200) road has a staffed closure. Due to increased fire activity north of Fruita, several other roads have been closed. These include 21 Road north of the BLM boundary, 16 Road at V 8/10 Road, and the Q 5/10 Road is closed at 18 Rd.

Air quality: Air Quality Health Advisories may be issued in areas near the Pine Gulch and Grizzly Creek fires. A smoke outlook for the Pine Gulch Fire is available where this update is posted and at https://fires.airfire.org/outlooks/WesternColorado. For more information on smoke levels, please visit https://airnow.gov.

Emergency alerts: For Garfield County, please visit garco911.com. Mesa County alerts, please visit bit.ly/Emergency_Alerts.

Temporary flight restrictions: A temporary flight restriction is in place over the Pine Gulch Fire. Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. For more information, visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org.

For more information:
Information office: (970) 628-0130, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Media inquiries: (970) 812-3706, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Email: 2020.PineGulch@firenet.gov
Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6906/
Facebook: https://facebook.com/PineGulchFireCO
Interactive fire map: https://arcg.is/W0izr
Smoke outlook: https://fires.airfire.org/outlooks/WesternColorado

Resources include: 4 Type 1 hand crews, 11 Type 2 hand crews, 9 helicopters, 57 engines, 10 bulldozers,
18 water tenders, and overhead/support personnel

RMIMT: Pine Gulch Fire at 125,000 acres