Extreme fire behavior noted as Pine Gulch Fire in western Colorado reaches 20,000 acres

PICT Pine Gulch Fire in Mesa County north of Grand Junction in August 2020.
Published Saturday, August 8, 2020
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by Chris Sorensen

The Pine Gulch Fire, which was started by lightning in Mesa County, has grown to 20,089 acres by Friday afternoon with zero containment. The fire was first reported July 31.

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MAP Pine Gulch Fire in Mesa County north of Grand Junction in August 2020.
Map of the Pine Gulch Fire in Mesa County north of Grand Junction August 7, 2020.

More than 450 firefighters are working the blaze, located about 18 miles north of Grand Junction, which is being driven by high temperatures and strong winds. Temperatures in the mid-90s are forecast for Saturday afternoon, and expected to continue throughout the week for the area. Rain is not in the forecast, while wind gusts to 20 miles per hour are expected.

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PICT Pine Gulch Fire in Mesa County north of Grand Junction in August 2020.
Pine Gulch Fire in Mesa County north of Grand Junction in August 2020.

Saturday, crews were attempting to hold and improve fire lines using hand crews and heavy equipment. Air resources are also being used. The fire, which is expected to continue growing, is burning in a mix of pinyon, juniper and oak trees along with sage brush, and is generally spreading toward the northeast.

As of Saturday afternoon, there were no evacuations. The fire is burning in a remote, rugged area.

An air quality health advisory, issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, is in effect for Mesa and Garfield counties through Sunday morning. Moderate to heavy smoke could cause breathing difficulty for people with respiratory illnesses, children, and people who are elderly. Outdoor activity should be limited

Mesa County Road 200 is closed at the Mesa-Garfield county line to nonessential vehicles. Temporary flight restrictions are also in place over the fire, which includes drones.

Fire danger in the area remains high, and Stage 1 fire restrictions are in place for Mesa and Garfield counties. Stage 1 restrictions are also in place for Bureau of Land Management land covered by the Grand Junction Field Office.

The Rocky Mountain Type 2 Incident Management Team Black, headed by Troy Hagan, has been in charge of battling the fire since Tuesday.

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