The Bull Draw Fire has grown about 1,000 acres in the past week and continues to produce smoke visible on the Western Slope.
At 7 a.m. Sunday, fire management officers from the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests upgraded the Bull Draw Fire to a Type 3 incident command because of a surge in fire intensity and growth.
“Over the past 24 hours an increase in overall temperature and wind activity along with a decrease in humidity has caused the 31,721-acre fire to rapidly spread to the north, crossing Long Canyon and is actively burning in the UC Drainage,” U.S. Forest Service public information officer Dylan Peters said on Sunday.
“Wildland fire crews attempted to halt the blaze at National Forest System Road 407,” he said.
Limited visibility on NFSR 402 (Divide Road), coupled with the presence of additional fire crews and equipment has led to an immediate safety hazard. The public was advised to slow down and take extreme caution when traveling along the Divide Road.
The fire’s growth in the Long Canyon area was attributed to an increase in temperature and winds and a decrease in humidity.
The fire is at 60 percent containment. Personnel continue to monitor the fire and patrol its perimeter, Peters said.
Fire management officials expect pockets of vegetation inside the perimeter of the fire to burn until a “season-ending” event such as a heavy rain or snow occurs, Peters said in a press release.
Steep and rugged terrain in the Long Canyon area have slowed attempts to establish control lines in Long Canyon, Peters said, adding that a helicopter will drop water in the area.
Management of the Bull Draw Fire was turned over to a local Type 4 team on Sept. 5, a day after a reduction in land closures was announced.
Peters also announced that the Middle Fork Fire, about 13 miles east of Ridgway, has kicked up and is producing smoke. The fire in burning on 5 acres in isolated and rugged terrain south of Silverjack Reservoir.