Fire near Rifle could produce haze over Yampa Valley

— There is just one wildfire of significance burning Thursday in Colorado, according to the U.S. Forest Service, but that fire near Rifle has the potential to bring a familiar bluish haze to the skies over Routt County.

As of Thursday morning, a fire in Garfield County, 15 miles northwest of Rifle and not far from Colorado Highway 13, had burned 600 acres of conifer, subalpine fir and spruce with a heavy component of beetle-killed timber, according to a USFS report. The fire also was burning in areas of pinon and juniper trees. There was no estimate of any containment of the fire.

A report Thursday morning from the Interagency Coordination Center, which tracks wildfires nationally, said that structures were being threatened and that some road closures were in effect because of the fire.

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s interactive highway conditions map did not indicate that Colo. 13 was closed by the fire.

The interagency report indicated the fire was burning in the crowns of trees and exhibited “long-distance spotting,” suggesting that it was capable of spreading further.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a freeze warning Thursday night for the northwest corner of Colorado, but no red flag warnings were in effect that would suggest high fire danger. However, westerly winds forecast up to 15 miles per hour have the potential to push smoke from the fire area into the Yampa Valley during the next couple of days.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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