Firefighters with Copper Mountain Fire Department were deployed early Thursday morning to an 850-acre wildfire burning on public land in Rio Blanco County.
Responders include five members of CMFD and the department’s Type 6 wildfire engine. A Type 6 engine features four-wheel drive, a water tank and a pumper, making it an ideal truck to fight wildfires, which often spark in rugged terrain, said Dan Moroz, public information officer for the fire department.
The practice of assisting other agencies is common in Colorado, Moroz said.
“We responded in an assistance capacity,” Moroz said. “We not only go to help with the fire, but also to receive valuable training and we hope these folks will come help us when a fire ignites in Summit County.”
The Wild Rose fire is burning on Bureau of Land Management property near Texas Mountain in southwest Rio Blanco County outside of Rangely. The fire stands at 850 acres with no containment.
Lynn Barclay, PIO for the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit in Craig, said three Type 1 fire crews are on the scene and working to develop an anchor point from which to begin fighting the fire.
Firefighting efforts have been slowed due to several factors, Barclay said, including limited access to water, rugged terrain and spotting of up to one mile ahead of the fire. Spotting is a term used to describe hot embers that are blown great distances by the wind.
Spotted embers have been known to ignite additional wildfires as far as two miles away from the host fire.
Air resources have twice been called to drop fire retardant, but were grounded on both occasions due to high winds in the area, Barclay said. Air resources were expected to make another effort Thursday afternoon.
The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team, a Type 2 incident command crew, also was en route to the fire Thursday afternoon. They are expected to assume command of firefighting efforts this morning.
No injuries, fatalities or property damage were reported Thursday, but the fire is threatening a youth camp and oil and natural gas facilities about a mile from the fire.
Employees of Encana Corp., a natural gas producer based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, were safely evacuated from the area, as were an undisclosed number of children and adults from the nearby youth camp.
The Wild Rose fire is believed to be a holdover fire, also known as a sleeper fire, and may have been caused by a lightning strike several days ago, Barclay said. The fire was first reported at about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday.