BLM Spokesperson, Chris Joyner says the lightning caused Pine Ridge Fire has advanced to the edge of the Colorado River, forcing the evacuation of 50 people.
As of 7 a.m. on Friday, one lane is open in each direction on I-70 through Debeque Canyon. Joyner tells KJCT News 8 that fire behavior has them concerned. He says officials don't expect I-70 to remain open.
As of Friday morning, the fire is still estimated to be 10,000 acres and growing rapidly. A burnout has been conducted to slow the progress on the fire. It is now 5% contained on the northeast side of the blaze, just south of Pyramid Rock.
Multiple structures are being threatened by the fast moving fire. Joyner says four air tankers and two helicopters have been ordered to help crews today.
The rapid shift of fire activity towards I-70 forced firefighting managers to order a Type 1 crew to battle the blaze. Structure crews are currently assessing homes in the projected path of the fire to determine the fire danger surrounding those structures.
Homeowners in the vicinity of the fire are asked to prepare their homes in the event that the fire approaches their structures. Homeowners should remove combustible materials away from their house. Lawn mowers, gas, oil, firewood or anything that could combust should be moved far away from the home. Fire behavior continues to be extreme and the once remote fire is now approaching populated areas.
The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit is coordinating closely with the Mesa County Sheriff. All agencies battling this fire are urging everyone to avoid I-70 in the vicinity of this fire.
According to Grand Valley Power, they may have to shut off power to residents living in and around De Beque on Friday in order to prevent injury to firefighters in the area. KJCT News 8 is getting unconfirmed reports that if this happens, it'll effect parts of Palisade and Grand Junction.
Fire information about the Pine Ridge Fire is available on www.inciweb.org or by calling 970 456-3623.
For information about preparing for possible evacuations, log on to www.sheriff.mesacounty.us.
The fire behavior is considered extreme with winds helping fuel the blaze. For more on the Pine Ridge fire behavior, click here.