FRUITA, CO — The Pine Gulch fire, which has been blazing since a lightning strike ignited it on July 31, has now burned through more than 125,000 acres in the remote deserts north of Grand Junction. It’s officially the 2nd largest wildfire in Colorado history and stubbornly remains contained at just 7%.
The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office has issued pre-evacuation orders for residents in the areas of County Road 205, Kimball Mountain Road and CR 256 in between Kimball Mountain road and Browns Point. More information can be found at https://garfieldcounty.net/.
An unexpected thunderstorm cell reported by meteorologists overnight caused strong wind gusts of up to 40 mph over a 3- to 4-hour period, resulting in extreme and erratic fire behavior that expanded the wildfire’s footprint. Firefighters were able to take shelter and are safe, but as residents of Mesa and Garfield County undoubtedly noticed when they awoke this morning, the overnight weather and fire activity caused heavy smoke and ash fall across the valley. Air quality is very poor, with continued smoke and haze through the afternoon. Residents are urged to limit outdoor activity, especially in highly affected areas.
The Grizzly Creek fire east of Glenwood Canyon, in the meantime, has now consumed over 28,000 acres and is about 4% contained. It’s now the nation’s top firefighting priority, according to Gov. Jared Polis.
The full incident updates for both fires are below.