Mother nature has been pitching in helping firefighters battling five wildfires in Colorado.
Rain fell on the fire areas overnight Thursday and more precipitation is expected on Friday, slowing down the fires and helping firefighters who are attacking fires directly, and others who are building containment lines under cloudy skies and cooler weather.
A cold front sweeping through Colorado on Friday is expected to bring some rain to the Western Slope and the mountains.
“It should help quite a bit. We’re expecting some cooler temperatures and rain there, too. At least for a short period,” said Jim Kalina, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder.
Some of the fires burning in Colorado, and throughout the West, have been sparked by lightning. The cold front, however, should diminish chances of lightning with the storms.
“With cooler temperatures, the conditions are not really good for spreading conditions,” Kalina said.
Fires burning in Colorado along the Utah border — Oil Springs, West and Wild Cow fires — may not get as much rain Friday, as a better chance for rain is expected along the Continental Divide and in eastern Colorado.
“Fire danger will be diminished, but they won’t get as wet as the Denver area,” Kalina said.
As of Friday morning, the five fires have burned a combined 24,583 acres, over 38-square miles.
Here’s the latest on some of the fires burning in Colorado:
Oil Springs fire
The fire, along the Utah border south of Rangely, has burned 12,707 acres, about 20-square miles, according to fire officials. Sparked by lightning on June 18, the fire is 5% contained. More than 200 firefighters are working on the blaze.
On Friday, work to secure and expand containment lines along Colorado 139 continues in the West Creek Road area. Colorado 139 remains closed as a safety precaution. On Thursday, all fire evacuations were lifted by the Rio Blanco Sheriff’s Office.
Muddy Slide fire
The fire has burned 4,150 acres, more than 6-square miles, since starting on June 20. The cause of the fire, burning in Routt County, is under investigation. The fire received a little precipitation — 0.2 inches — on Thursday, enough to calm the fire down.
“Firefighters took advantage of this brief reprieve to safely build fire lines closer to the edge of the fire,” officials said in a daily update.
Helicopters are being used to assist ground crews working on the fire. A recent fire team assessment has found vegetation — fire fuel — in the area to be “exceptionally dry.”
Fire manager expect Muddy Slide “to be a long duration fire” and an estimated containment date is July 30.
About 200 firefighters are working on the fire, which has burned 3,752 acres, almost 6-square miles, since starting on June 20 in Eagle County. There is no containment.
Fire officials will hold a virtual community Facebook meeting at 6 p.m. Friday. Fire managers ask that everyone use extreme caution, and follow fire restriction orders, wit fire outdoors.
Some areas of the fire received up to 0.5 inches of precipitation on Thursday. More rain was expected Friday.
“The reprieve will be short lived, however, as warming, drying conditions are expected to move back into the area next week,” fire officials said.
The fire, in the northwestern corner of Colorado, is 50% contained. It has burned 3,421 acres, just more than 5-square miles, since starting on June. 20. It is burning through heavy lodgepole and limber pine, surrounded by sagebrush and grasses, in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties on Bureau of Land Management lands. No structures are threatened.
On Friday, crews worked to secure and strengthen containment lines on all sides of the fire. The fire is smoldering as the interior area burns.
Temperatures in the fire are were expected to top out in the lower 60s on Friday, with a humidity reading of about 43%, fire officials said. Winds were expected to gust up 25 mph.
“Cloud cover, higher humidity, and lower temperatures” were likely to calm the fire on Friday, officials said.
Wild Cow fire
The fire, reported on June 21, has burned 553 acres, less than 1-square mile.
Lightning likely sparked the fire, which is burning in Garfield County. On Thursday, cloud cover and higher humidity aided firefighters in battling the fire.
More than 50 firefighters, from the local Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Unit, are fighting the fire.
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