Rifle fire’s size unchanged; smoke mostly from Arizona

A fire near Rifle stayed within its 170-acre perimeter Monday despite high winds.

The large amount of smoke in western Colorado Monday came instead from fires in Flagstaff, Ariz., said David Boyd, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman, in a news release.

The Water Creek Fire on the Roan Plateau north of Rifle was active within its perimeter, consuming unburned pockets of timber.

Firefighters have let the lightning-caused fire reach natural barriers such as aspen and sagebrush meadows, which aren’t burning despite the winds.

No homes or structures are threatened.

About 100 firefighters continued working the fire Monday, but that number will be sharply reduced today as crews shift into fire monitoring mode.

Firefighters who are specially trained in managing natural fires will remain on scene. The continued burning is intended to help clear heavy amounts of dead and downed timber and encourage new forest growth.

The fire is expected to possibly continue burning for several weeks, and smoke may be visible from Rifle and other nearby areas. Firefighters will respond if needed to keep the fire within the targeted boundary.

Meanwhile, two key access routes onto the Roan Plateau — the JQS and Cow Creek roads — will reopen today.

The Rim Road also will be open, but several interior roads remain closed until further notice, including Bureau of Land Management roads 8004 (Cook Ridge), 8006 (Northwater), 8008 (Long Ridge), and 8009. A Roan Plateau roadmap may be found at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/crvfo.html.

Updates on the Water Creek Fire and other fires nationwide are at inciweb.org.


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