Lightning Sparks Wildfire Outside of Rifle
Update 6/17: A wildfire burning north of Rifle seems to be slowing down thanks to lower temperatures.
A fire spokesman said yesterday the Ward Gulch Fire, which was ignited Friday by lightning, is estimated to be burning on 485 acres and is 60 percent contained.
No houses are threatened but residents of 12 homes were ordered to leave.
Encana Corp. has shut down 32 natural gas wells in central Colorado because of the nearby wildfire. Company spokesman Doug Hock said Friday the shutdowns are just a precaution.
Garfield County officials say two wells owned by WPX Energy have also been shut down.
Maria Pina of Colorado River Fire Rescue says the fire is located about a quarter mile from some wells, but no structures are currently threatened. She said the fire is expected to be under control soon.
Mike Porras from the Colorado Parks & Wildlife released this update today as well: Due to the Ward Gulch wildfire currently burning north of the city of Rifle, fire officials have closed Highway 325 until further notice. The highway leads to Rifle Falls State Park and the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery. The public is currently not being allowed to enter the state park or the hatchery.
At Rifle Gap State Park, located approximately three miles south of the fire, boating is prohibited and shoreline access is limited while helicopters dip into the reservoir for water as part of firefighting efforts. Anyone planning to visit Rifle Gap State Park, Rifle Falls State Park or the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery are asked to seek alternative areas for recreation until further notice.
Nearby Harvey Gap State Park remains open; however, only motorboats with 20 horsepower engines or less are allowed in the water.
From Colorado River Fire Rescue on Facebook on the 13th at 22:45 regarding the fire up in the Beaver Creek area. At the time of the update this fire located on BLM land on Mesa Plateau was roughly 7 acres in size. The winds are making this an unpredictable fire so it is being watched closely by BLM Inter-agency crews, Grand Valley Fire Crews and CRFR crews. They are currently on scene cutting fire line and battling the blaze. Thankfully the smaller fires around the Rifle area have been extinguished.
We will keep you updated as more info becomes available