UPDATE: Hunt Fire—Rains slow fire growth

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MEEKER | Firefighters from the Northwest Colorado Interagency Fire Management Unit continue to manage the Hunt Fire on Bureau of Land Management land about 26 miles southwest of Meeker in Rio Blanco County. Lightning ignited the fire on Thursday, Sept. 5. It is remotely located, burning in thick brush on ridges and valleys north of the Roan Plateau.

More moderate temperatures and rain yesterday afternoon and overnight slowed the fire’s growth, and the Hunt Fire is now approximately 2,578 acres. Today’s weather is expected to be mostly sunny, with high temperatures approaching 80F, and possible showers and thunderstorms with associated gusty winds this afternoon. While fire behavior is minimal this morning, it is likely to begin heating up again later today.

Firefighters continue to focus on protecting values at risk, including several isolated historic cabins and dispersed oil and gas facilities. Crews have identified an opportunity to hold the fire’s southern perimeter, and will prepare for burnout operations to occur today or tomorrow. Fire managers’ objective is to keep the fire north of the Rio Blanco/Garfield County line, south of an oil pipeline that is located north of the fire, east of Hunter Creek and west of West Willow Creek.

Sally Lou Johnson, a local adjacent landowner whose BLM grazing allotment is within the burned area, appreciates the fire’s benefits. “The brush and trees in that area are so overgrown, it’s difficult to get animals in and out, and the junipers are so thick that hardly any grass grows under them,” said Johnson. She also commended firefighters’ care in protecting local infrastructure and values at risk, saying, “The firefighters have been terrific. They saved every one of the livestock troughs along Big Jimmy Ridge.”

The patchy mosaic burn pattern will increase the diversity of ecosystems on the landscape. A more diverse landscape can support a wider variety of wildlife species. Big game and livestock will more easily be able to move through the area, and new vegetative growth will provide for greater and improved forage.

An area closure (Closure Order #CONOS000-19-01) is in effect to provide for firefighter and public safety in the area around the wildfire. The area closure includes public lands and routes within an area north of Rio Blanco/Garfield County line, east of Hunter Creek Road, west of West Willow Creek Road, and extending north to County Road 5. This includes Big Jimmy Gulch.

Two helicopters are working the fire, along with two hand crews and several engines from BLM and local cooperators. For the latest information about the Hunt Fire, visit the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Facebook Page, @RioBlancoCountySheriffsOffice, or on Inciweb at: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6583/