Smoke visible in Eagle County from Pine Gulch Fire near Grand Junction
Eagle County woke up on Sunday to smoky air and a hazy horizon, which is being attributed to smoke from the Pine Gulch Fire according to Robert Koopmeiners, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Boulder.
The fire was reported on July 31, reportedly started by lightning, and is burning in Mesa and Garfield counties, about 18 miles north of Grand Junction according to the Incident Information System. As of Sunday morning, the fire spanned 21,364 acres and was 7% contained. Koopmeiners said the winds are blowing west to east and upslope.
The National Weather Service put out a hazardous weather outlook, stating that hot and generally dry weather will continue through the week and that there will be elevated fire danger. Summit Fire & EMS has listed the fire danger on Sunday as high. Koopmeiners said there is a 30% chance of afternoon thunderstorms today and Tuesday, but that he doesn’t anticipate them bringing much precipitation.
More homes on evacuation notice
Residents living near the wildfire burning on the Mesa-Garfield county line north of Grand Junction have been told to be ready to evacuate as the blaze expands.
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The Pine Gulch Fire is burning in remote, rough terrain north of Grand Junction.
A small number of homes in the area were evacuated Saturday and more residents were put on notice Saturday night that they could have to leave immediately if the fire approaches.
Residents in the pre-evacuation area will be notified in-person by emergency personnel if an evacuation is ordered, and notifications will also be made through the Garfield County Emergency Notification System and online.
Nearly 500 people are fighting the fire — 472 personnel are on scene — and authorities expected to see “moderate to high rates of spread” Sunday.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a 24-hour air quality warning for northern Mesa County and southwestern Garfield County Sunday morning, warning that the areas would see moderate and heavy smoke. The advisory encouraged residents who experience heavy smoke in their neighborhoods to stay inside.
The Denver Post, Summit Daily and Glenwood Post Independent contributed reporting to this story.