The Bull Draw Fire, burning in a remote area 12 miles northwest of Nucla, grew to 4,253 acres by Saturday.
“Crews secured a solid containment line along the east flank of the fire,” said Emily Davis, of the incident command center. Winds on Thursday night pushed the fire farther north into the Uncompahgre National Forest, she said, and firefighters investigated reports of a new fire but determined it to be part of the Bull Draw Fire.
On Saturday, hand crews planned to continue working on hot spots, and anchor to cold sections of the containment lines. Davis said on InciWeb that the area received no substantial precipitation on Thursday night but added that the increased relative humidity was expected to create favorable weather conditions.
Containment of the fire rose to 35 percent.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment listed air quality in the Four Corners area as moderate, and lifted the air quality advisory, which expired at 9 a.m. Friday.
On Tuesday, the fire grew mostly to the west and south of the fire’s footprint. Hand crews and bulldozers worked to build a contingency line off U18 Road, using natural land features and an old burn scar. Retardant drops from the air have bolstered work on the ground, Davis said Wednesday.
Crews on Wednesday focused on holding and developing contingency fire lines to protect private property. A Type II helicopter worked to fortify lines and address spot fires and tree torching.
A Type 3 team took over command of the fire Tuesday morning. About 75 personnel, including three Type 2 hand crews, five engines, two water tenders, three bulldozers and one Type 2 helicopter, were working on the fire, Davis said Tuesday.
The lightning-ignited fire was reported July 29 and is primarily burning in pinon, juniper and sagebrush. It grew to 824 acres on Monday.
No evacuation orders were in effect, but some roads were closed to public use. They included Montrose County Road U18/Spring Creek Truck Trail, Forest Service Roads 425, 598, 599 and 668 and trails 616, 617, 623, 624, 622 and 625. Interfering with fire operations is a Class A federal misdemeanor, subject to up to 1 year in prison and/or $100,000 fine, Davis said.
Smoke from the Bull Draw and Buttermilk fires might also be visible in Delta and Montrose counties.
The Buttermilk Fire is burning in pinon/juniper vegetation in the rugged Lime Kiln drainage area 15 miles northeast of Montrose in the Red Canyon area. On Saturday, it was estimated at 746 acres, and containment was 25 percent.
Crews on Friday benefited from cloud cover as the focused their efforts on cooling hot spots building contingency fire lines, Davis said. Ground support improved contingency lines on the east side of the fire, parallel to Lime Kiln Gulch, and scouted additional line locations. A Type 1 helicopter was assisting in mop-up efforts on hot spots.
On Tuesday, three single-engine air tankers dropped retardant to help check the fire’s spread across the Lime Kiln drainage, and air support was planned for the evening. The fire had not crossed the drainage, and no structures were immediately threatened, Davis said. About 60 personnel were engaged in the firefight.