Bull Draw Fire north of Nucla grows to 6,439 acres

Monday, Aug. 6, 2018 6:59 PM
The Bull Draw Fire grew to 6,097 acres as of 7 p.m. Saturday. A home and several cabins were evacuated.
The Bull Draw Fire grew to 6,097 acres as of 7 p.m. Saturday. It’s burning about 12 miles northeast of Nucla.
Bull Draw emergency closures
The Bureau of Land Management implemented an emergency closure for the Bull Draw Fire area,

The Bull Draw Fire, burning in a remote area 12 miles northwest of Nucla, grew to 6,439 acres by Monday afternoon.

This weekend, the fire forced the evacuation of a home and several cabins, and additional road and trail closures.

There was minimal fire behavior on the south, east and west sides of the Bull Draw Fire on Monday, according to a press release from public information officer Kimberlee J. Phillips, of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest.

The fire was most active on the northern, Mesa County side, where a small amount of growth occurred. The fire was backing down the ridge at the South Fork Mesa Creek drainage, Phillips said, adding that moderate growth was expected in the next 24 hours.

Crews worked to maintain and improve existing fire lines and prepare structures by clearing flammable material away from houses and using sprinkler systems as a defense.

The Minnesota Incident Command System Type 2 Blue Team took over command of the fire on Monday and created a page for updates at Brian Pisarek is the incident commander. The team is a more robust, federal team than the state-based Type 3 team that had been in place since July 31.

About 115 personnel were assigned Monday to the fire. Additional resources have been ordered, and Hotshot crews were expected to arrive to assist firefighting operations soon.

Hot and dry conditions were expected to persist into the week, with relative humidity dropping below 10 percent and winds at 3-10 mph, keeping the chance for a wetting rain near zero. The fire has been burning in piñon, juniper, sagebrush and aspen.

On Sunday, upslope afternoon winds fueled the fire’s spread north onto U.S. Forest Service land, said public information officer Anne Janik. Existing containment lines held, and containment remained at 35 percent.

“One full-time residence and several cabins in the vicinity of the fire were evacuated, but no other evacuation orders are in effect at this time,” Janik said. “Protecting property is a priority, and resources are responding to prepare these structures with defensible space.”

No structures were lost.

On Saturday, hand crews continued working on hot spots and anchoring to cold sections of the containment lines. Information specialist Emily Davis reported on InciWeb that the area received no substantial precipitation on Thursday night but the increased relative humidity helped firefighters increase the containment to 35 percent.

The lightning-ignited fire was reported July 29 and grew to 824 acres the next day.

The Bureau of Land Management implemented an emergency closure for the Bull Draw area, including Montrose County Roads S15, S17, R23, Z26, and all BLM roads, trails and land. Other closures included Montrose County Road U18/Spring Creek Truck Trail and National Forest Service Roads 402.2B 402.2C, 407, 411, 425, 598, 599 and 668. Trails in the area also were closed.

Smoke from the Bull Draw and Buttermilk fires was expected to impact residents in Delta and Montrose counties.

The Buttermilk Fire is burning in piñon/juniper vegetation in the rugged Lime Kiln drainage area 15 miles northeast of Montrose in the Red Canyon area. On Sunday, it was estimated at 746 acres, and containment was 50 percent.

About 50 personnel were engaged in the firefight and continued to mop up hot spots.