A wildfire in northwest Colorado, about 26 miles west of Meeker, has grown to 2,300 acres, officials said Sunday.
The Hunt fire in Rio Blanco County started by lightning Thursday and continued to grow as it burned in thick brush on ridges and valleys north of the Roan Plateau on Bureau of Land Management land, according to a news release from the Northwest Colorado Interagency Fire Management Unit.
Hot, dry weather as well as wind led to the fire’s spread, with smoke visible in Glenwood Springs and surrounding communities to the east, officials said.
The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division released an advisory Sunday morning, cautioning people who see thick smoke to stay indoors and consider going to another location if the smoke makes its way indoors. If the smoke visibility is fewer than 5 miles, the levels are unhealthy, according to public health officials.
Smoke is expected in parts of southern Rio Blanco County, with the heaviest to the northeast of the Hunt fire along County Road 5 to the east of the County Road 26 intersection, according to an advisory. Although the smoke is expected to dissipate later in the day, winds will likely push smoke northeast of the fire, possibly to White River City and Meeker. Thunderstorms and winds could push it in other directions, according to the outlook. The smoke is expected to affect the same areas along County Road 5 on Sunday evening into Monday.
Firefighters worked on protecting isolated historic cabins and oil and gas facilities Saturday, according to fire officials, and they are trying to keep the fire north of the county line, south of an oil pipeline and east of Hunter Creek and west of West Willow Creek, the release stated.
“Within its approximate 2,300-acre perimeter, the Hunt Fire is burning in a patchy mosaic, consuming fuels in its path, while leaving areas of unburned fuels,” the release stated. “The fire’s removal of heavy dead, down trees and thick brush will open up the landscape and allow for new vegetative growth. This is expected to improve habitat for big game and other wildlife species, as well as provide for better livestock distribution in grazing allotments.”
Public lands and routes north of Rio Blanco County line, east of Hunter Creek Road, west of Willow Creek Road, and extending north to County Road 5 are closed, including Big Jimmy Gulch, according to the release.
Crews are fighting the fire via two helicopters, two hand crews and several engines.