RMIMT: Pine Gulch Fire at 87,209 acres

Pine Gulch Fire statistics:
Size: 87,209 acres
Containment: 7%
Total Personnel: 824
Location: Approximately 18 miles north of Grand Junction, CO
Reported: July 31, approximately 5:15 p.m.
Cause: Lightning

8.18.20, 5:56 p.m. – Garfield County Sheriff’s Office: 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-evacuation 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.

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8.18.20, 5:56 p.m. – Oficina del Sheriff del Condado de Garfield: Se levantan las evacuaciones para los residentes del área de Pine Gulch Fire a lo largo de County Road 204 que viven debajo de Clear Creek Road. Es posible que algunas residencias en las carreteras laterales de la CR 204 no tengan electricidad hasta mañana, ya que los equipos continúan restaurando y reactivando las líneas eléctricas. La CR 204 está abierta a los residentes solo en Brush Creek Road o CR 209. El contenedor de basura comunitario para la eliminación de alimentos está detrás de Cowboy Chapel en Clear Creek. Los residentes que regresen seguirán estando en pre-evacuación en caso de que se necesiten más evacuaciones.

Quedan en evacuación los residentes de County Road 204 sobre County Road 209, así como County Road 207 y 202 / Kimball Creek Road sobre el marcador de 5.5 millas.

8.18.20, 10:56 a.m. – Current situation: Fire behavior will likely be active and challenging again today as winds continue to align with drainages and burn in areas containing critically dry fuels. Fire behavior specialists measure moisture levels in fuels to assess how easily they will ignite and how well they will burn. Many of the large diameter fuels (heavy logs) in the Pine Gulch area are at 8% moisture content. For comparison, this update – in its printed paper form – would be about 6%. The finer, smaller fuels in the Pine Gulch Fire area have about 2% moisture content. Residents should again expect to see smoke columns in several areas of the fire today.

Firefighters conducted a precise burning operation in a small area west of the fire yesterday in efforts to control the spread of the fire to the NW. Because of the extremely dry fuels as discussed above, fire behavior became more active than desired, and about 100 acres of fire crossed a control line in the Mud Creek area of Division E. Conditions allowing, aircraft will work to help check this fire’s edge while fire managers look for options to insert ground crews safely into this difficult terrain. Crews in Division E have improved the indirect line running north-south on the ridgeline just west of the fire’s edge. Today, crews will look for more options to connect control line from the 204 Rd. north into the 256 Rd. To the north of Division E, crews in Divisions F and L will continue creating secondary lines, utilizing existing road systems. Firefighters in Division K on the north will keep improving the dozer line near the Division E/K break and will monitor the northern edge of the fire. On the east side of the fire in Divisions Z and A, control line is holding well, and these areas are in patrol and monitor status. On the southern edge of Division A, firefighters will keep improving the dozer line that heads SW into the Hunter Fire burn scar and continue control line construction west into the new Division B. (Division B is approximately where Division D was yesterday, and Division D is now on the west side.) Active fire behavior persists in Division B. Much of the topography here is steep and rugged with heavy fuels, narrow canyons, and unsatisfactory escape routes. It is not safe for firefighters and, therefore, not conducive to direct line construction at the fire’s edge. Crews are focusing on options for indirect control line. They are working with road systems and natural features that will help limit spread as the fire progresses south/southwest. Residents will likely see significant smoke in Divisions B and D today as the fire keeps consuming fuels here as predicted.

Yesterday, LATs (Large Air Tankers) and VLATs (Very Large Air Tankers) flew in the Divisions E/K areas, laying down retardant to help slow fire spread. LATs will be available again today if smoke conditions allow them to fly.

The Pine Gulch Fire remains heavily staffed at night; crews are patrolling control lines and monitoring nighttime fire behavior. They will implement suppression and protection efforts as needed. Nighttime fire glow may be visible even in Grand Junction.

Weather & fuel conditions: High pressure remains, keeping the weather pattern somewhat stagnant. The fire will see the same northerly flow overall, with the same southerly component on the SW corner. Winds will be 7-9 mph with gusts up to 15, with the potential for outflow winds starting around 7 p.m. Temperature highs are forecast at 96 with relative humidity 9-11%.

Evacuations: Garfield County: Clear Creek (211) road, Carr Creek (207) road, Brush Creek (209) road, CR 202. 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, 9 Type 2 hand crews, 9 helicopters, 56 engines, 9 bulldozers, 18 water tenders, and overhead/support personnel

RMIMT: Pine Gulch Fire at 87,209 acres