RMIMT: Pine Gulch Fire at 139,000 acres, 77 percent containment

Pine Gulch Fire statistics:
approximately 139,006 acres
Containment: 77%
Total personnel: 915
Location: Approximately 18 miles north of Grand Junction, CO
Reported: July 31, approximately 5:15 p.m.
Cause: Lightning

Special Notes: Because of more accurate mapping yesterday that included previously unburned islands within the fire perimeter, the Pine Gulch Fire is now 139,006 acres, making it the largest wildfire in Colorado history. Firefighting efforts on the Pine Gulch Fire have been highly successful; the fire is now 77% contained.

The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team will be transitioning command of the Pine Gulch Fire to the Southern Area Type 1 Red Team on Sunday morning, August 30. Members of the Southern Area team are beginning to arrive today, and tomorrow will be a “shadow day” where members of both teams work closely together to ensure an efficient and thorough transition.

Garfield county has removed the pre-evacuation for all areas west of Hwy 139 to the Utah border. BLM closures in the fire area have been reduced, but some are still in effect: www.tinyurl.com/PineGulchBLM.

Current situation: Yesterday, most of the observed fire activity was interior burning of unburned fuels that posed no threat to containment lines. Similar behavior is expected today, with minimal chance of spread outside the fire perimeter. Interior burning is most likely in the East Salt Creek area in Division F and on the west side in Division D.

More containment was added to all sides of the Pine Gulch Fire, including on the northeast in Division K, the south side at the Division A/B break, along Hwy 139 in Divisions D and E, and in the East Salt Creek area in Division F. There is still some open line and heat in the area near the Division A/B break, but there has been no fire movement for many days. Similarly, there is still open line and heat in Divisions B and D in the Munger Creek area, but no movement, and this area will be monitored from Hwy 139 as well as from the air. Fire above the retired mine near Hwy 139 has checked itself in natural barriers with no recent movement.

Today, crews in Divisions K, Z, and A will patrol and monitor as well as backhaul unneeded equipment including structure protection equipment near homes on the Roan Creek Rd. In Divisions F, handline created by hotshots in the East Salt Creek area is complete; however, there are still several days of work left to completely mop-up and secure this edge. This area is steep and severe terrain that is accessible only by foot, so this work requires time and patience.

As activity on the Pine Gulch Fire quickly diminishes, fire managers are rightsizing the organization to appropriately fit the current needs. Many resources will be demobilized today so that they can be sent to other fires where the need is now greater. A nighttime operational period is no longer necessary on the Pine Gulch Fire; all future work will be performed during daytime hours.

Focus is now on structure suppression repair (actions that help minimize damage to soil, water, and other resources directly attributable to fire suppression activities) and rehabilitation of impacted areas. Resource Advisors will work with crews to direct efforts, and today these efforts will begin in the SE corner of the fire in Division A.

Weather & fuel conditions: Today brings more chances of thunderstorms starting at 12 p.m. with the potential for wind gusts up to 40 mph. There is a 10% chance of wetting rain. Maximum temperature is around 89 with 19-22% minimum relative humidity. Winds are forecast from the southwest at 5-8 mph with gusts up to 17. There is an increasing chance for thunderstorms and moisture in the coming days. As the chance of rainfall increases, so does the threat of flash flooding and debris flow. Any new fire starts in the vicinity still have significant potential for growth.

Evacuations and pre-evacuations: Evacuations and pre-evacuations are changing in Garfield County as fire activity decreases. Please go to: www.garfield-county.com and scroll down to the “evacuations” tab for the most recent updates. There are currently no pre-evacuations or evacuations in Mesa County: www.sheriff.mesacounty.us/FireInformation. Closures: Roan Creek Road (204) at North Dry Fork (200). The 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. Some BLM lands in the fire area are still closed. Please see: www.tinyurl.com/PineGulchBLM.

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.

Resources include: 3 Type 1 hand crews, 9 Type 2 hand crews, 7 helicopters, 60 engines, 13 bulldozers, 26 water tenders, and overhead/support personnel.

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

RMIMT: Pine Gulch Fire at 139,000 acres, 77 percent containment