UPDATE: Ward Gulch Fire officials discuss plan

Photo courtesy of viewer Keri Washburn
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Updated at 8:30 a.m.

RIFLE, Colo. (KKCO) - The Ward Gulch fire has grown to at least 300 acres and about 150 firefighters are battling it.

As of Friday night, the fire was a half mile from any structures, and evacuation orders were still in place for some residents nearby. The Evacuation Center at the Garfield County Fairgrounds in Rifle and is being hosted by the Red Cross.

UPDATED AT 5:20 p.m.

RIFLE, Colo. (KKCO) - It was less than 24 hours ago the Beaver Creek fire broke out near Rifle. Now a second fire is raging in the same area.

The Ward Gulch fire sparked up about three miles north of Rifle Gap on BLM land. Officials say it's grown to about 60 acres and say it likely started as a lightning strike.

Right now two structures are being threatened, the fish hatchery and the Rifle Gap Recreation Area. Campers and hikers have been evacuated from the Rifle Mountain Park. No home evacuations have been ordered yet, but the Garfield County Sheriff's Office says deputies are going door-to-door, updating residents on the fire and warning of a possible evacuation.

Crews are working in heavy Pinion and Juniper forest. The fires is headed north-northwest.

KKCO 11 News crews are in the area and will bring you updates as information becomes available.

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) -- A second wildfire is burning in the Rifle area.

This one sparked in Rifle Gap on Bureau of Land Management land, according to Josh Graham with the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management (UCR).

Officials estimate it has grown to 60 acres, significantly larger than the 10-acre Beaver Creek Fire which was reported last night.

Graham has ordered a type-3 incident team to respond to the new fire; it was most likely caused by a lightning storm last night.

The flames are spreading over the pinion/juniper foliage, headed north-northwest.

Graham said it's not threatening any structures at this time, but the nearest buildings are about two miles north.


UPDATED AT 12:09 a.m.

RIFLE, Colo. (KKCO) - The Ward Gulch is causing evacuations. Residents North of Rifle Gap along Highway 325 are under an evacuation order.

They're being directed to the Garfield County Fairgrounds. All residents North of the Fish Hatchery are being directed through the triangle park area.

There's also some voluntary evacuations.

Traffic on Highway 325 closed in both directions and some other smaller roads have also been closed.

The fire sparked about three miles north of Rifle Gap on BLM land. So far it has burned over 300 acres and is growing rapidly.

Fire crews say they're working hard to battle the blaze before it gets out of hand.

KKCO 11 News crews will be in the area, Saturday, to bring you the latest information on the Ward Gulch Fire.


UPDATED AT 7:20 p.m.

RIFLE, Colo. (KKCO) - According to officials, the Ward Gulch fire spans about 350 acres.

Crews believe that they have the fire at about 15% containment and are confident that they will be able to maintain their progress even with increasing winds this evening.

The fire is slowly moving towards residencies but has yet to cause any structural damage.

Evacuations are still under effect for homes northeast of the fire front on 325 road and officials are uncertain as to when they will be lifted.

UPDATED AT 11:00 p.m.

The fire has increased to 682 acres and 15% containment. Evacuations remain in place. Officials are working on the fire tonight and tomorrow they have planned public meetings.

Crews feel like they are making good progress.

There was a fire on HWY 6&50 tonight between Grand Junction and Delta, but the fire was contained.

Officials discussed their plan of action for battling the blaze this afternoon and say they put a box (technical fire term) around fire flurries so hand crews can safely enter.

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