Crews let Rifle-area fire burn

A wildfire near Rifle remained active within its 170-acre perimeter but did not grow Tuesday, Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management said in a news release.

“The fire is cleaning up its interior and doing what we want it to do,” incident commander Fred Thompson of the Helena Hot Shots said in the release.

The lightning-caused Water Creek Fire is burning on the Roan Plateau about 10 miles north of Rifle. About 50 firefighters are monitoring but not suppressing it, with the goal of letting it burn dead timber and stimulate new forest growth.

The JQS, Cow Creek and Rim roads are open on the plateau, but motorists should be on the lookout for a large amount of fire traffic, and several other roads remain closed. Updates on road closures will be available at


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