Brush fire forces evacuations in Pear Park

A fast-moving brush fire swept over and destroyed a home, two sheds and a recreational vehicle in Pear Park this afternoon, as damaging high winds wreaked havoc across the Grand Valley and western Colorado throughout the day.

The fire near 28 and C 3/4 roads was reported around 3:30 p.m. and forced several residents to evacuate their homes. Firefighters struggled to get a handle on the blaze, fueled by strong winds, before knocking it down and preventing further damage.

Winds that gusted above 50 mph at Grand Junction Regional Airport kept law enforcement, emergency responders and other personnel busy all day. Authorities responded to multiple reports of trees falling on homes. One woman living in the 600 block of Aldrea Vista Court in Palisade reported a tree fell on her gate, blocking her driveway and preventing her from leaving.

High winds triggered flight cancellations and delays at Grand Junction Regional Airport, forced the closure of the Mesa County Landfill this morning and knocked out power to roughly 400 people in several areas of Grand Junction. Xcel Energy was working to restore service.

Dry, hot, windy conditions also challenged firefighters battling several blazes in northwestern Colorado.

The Dead Dog Fire, which was reported Sunday night to be just 40 acres in size 10 miles north of Rangely, blew up on Monday to more than 2,000 acres. It triggered the closure of U.S. Highway 40 between Dinosaur and Skull Valley, as well as the closure Rio Blanco County Road 1. The small community of Blue Mountain, located east of Dinosaur, is being evacuated, according to Bureau of Land Management spokesman David Boyd. State health officials issued an air quality health advisory for western Rio Blanco County due to the wildfire smoke and encouraged people to stay indoors or limit their outdoor activity.

The cause of that fire is under investigation.

The Hunter Fire 20 miles southwest of Meeker had grown to nearly 1,000 acres and was 30 percent contained as of Sunday night, according to the BLM.

More than 60 firefighters, five engines and a helicopter are working the lightning-sparked fire, which is burning on BLM lands and close to oil and gas infrastructure.

A third fire, the 67-acre Temple Fire, was contained about 25 miles west of Craig on Sunday evening.

A fourth fire, the 55-acre Cross Fire, continued to burn in a rugged, remote area on BLM land in the Cross Mountain Wilderness Study Area 35 miles west of Craig, according to the BLM. The fire was about 60 percent contained Sunday night.

A large swath of the Western Slope is under a red flag warning until late tonight, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. Forecasters say windy conditions will persist today ahead of a Pacific storm system that will drive a cold front east across the region during the day today. Winds will be out of the southwest at 25 to 35 mph but could gust as high as 55 mph.

New and existing fires will spread quickly under these conditions, becoming difficult or impossible to control, according to forecasters.

The high in Grand Junction today is expected to reach 88 degrees. Highs are expected to drop a bit the next couple of days before surging close to 100 by the weekend.


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