Pine Ridge Fire Grows, More Crews on Scene
KREX News Room
DE BEQUE, Colo.- UPDATE: At 9:30 p.m. Friday, officials lifted the evacuation order for some of the residents displaced by the Pine Ridge Fire in the area south of De Beque. The evacuation order remains in place, except for areas along Interstate 70 and the Frontage Road from the De Beque Interchange south to S 1/2 Road, and areas between the Colorado River and 45 1/2 Road. This includes people with addresses on the I-70 Frontage Road, S 1/2 Road, U Road, T Road and those addresses along 45 1/2 Road from I-70 to T Road.
The Western Slope's first major wildfire rages on. The Pine Ridge Fire, now an estimated 12,000 acres, has now advanced to the edge of the Colorado River, prompting road closures and evacuations. It is currently 10 percent contained.
As of 7 p.m. Friday Interstate 70 was open going both directions. Officials warn that intermittent closures can be expected due to firefighting activity. On Friday morning, one lane in each direction was open on I-70 from exit 49 to exit 62. Previously, all lanes were shut down.
Fire officials say the fire is still growing, but not at the rate it was Thursday. They say that's due to milder winds.
Multiple structures are being threatened. On Thursday, three unoccupied tents and campers were destroyed when the fire crossed the Mustang Ranch.
Officials have expressed concern the fire may jump the interstate. They worked hard to prevent that Friday and were successful. Four heavy tankers and two helicopters were ready in case the fire did jump.
The Mesa County Sheriff's Office has evacuated areas in De Beque south of S 1/2 Road, west of 45 1/2 Road and east of I-70. The De Beque Fire Department has also added the area south of U Road to the list.
This rapid shift of fire activity has prompted firefighting managers to order a Type 1 crew to battle the blaze. "Very rough, difficult terrain to fight fire in, and as everyone knows, we're in such extreme fire conditions throughout Colorado right now. It's just really tough to battle this fire," explained David Boyd of the Interagency Fire Management.
Around 100 firefighters have been battling the flames. Some of the firefighters traveled to Colorado from the states of Washington and Oregon to help out local crews. Fire officials say those numbers of crews increased Friday.
So far, about 50 people have been evacuated.
More information is available at www.inciweb.org. You can also call 456-3623.
Palisade High School is welcoming evacuees.