Officials say the Pine Ridge Fire grew only 330 acres from Friday into Saturday as crews upped containment to 25%.
The estimated size of the lighting-caused blaze now rests at 12,430 acres. More than 430 people have arrived to fight the fire just southwest of De Beque.
Resources allocated to the Pine Ridge Fire include 15 hands crews, 21 fire engines, three helicopters, a skycrane, four heavy air tankers, and fixed wing support. So far, almost $1 million has been spent on fighting this fire.
A total of three outbuildings in the Mustang Ranch area have been destroyed. Officials say 250 structures, cultural resources, oil and gas wells and the town of De Beque are considered threatened although fire activity has calmed down.
Overnight, containment levels remained at 10%. Saturday, fire crews were able to more than double that number.
Less aggressiveness and a slight break from the weather on Friday helped crews continue to reinforce fire lines surrounding the blaze.
On Thursday fire crews were almost sure the flames would jump the interstate through De Beque Canyon, but the blaze never did.
Three unoccupied structures have burned in the Mustang Ranch area, but fire crews believe the threat is gone in some places.
Friday night at 9:30 pm, Mesa Count Sheriff Stan Hilkey lifted mandatory evacuations for areas along I-70 and the Frontage Road from the DeBeque Interchange south to S 1/2 Road. People are also allowed to return to their homes between the Colorado River and 45.5 Road including people with addresses on I-70 Frontage Road, S 1/2 Road, U Road, T Road and those address along 45.5 Road from I-70 to T Road.
A fire warning is still in effect for this area and these residents, should they choose to return home, should remain on pre-evacuation alert.
Mandatory evacuation orders are still in place for areas east of 45.5 Road from T Road south to Hwy 65. This includes those residents on or near Horse Canyon Road or "Turkey Tracks." Officials say the danger in these areas remains very high.
I-70 is currently open, but drivers should be aware that road closures could be implemented the fire spreads in that area.
Fire crews believe that they are starting to gain the upper hand on this blaze with some help from Mother Nature.
“The weather’s on our side today and we’re making good progress,” Operation Section Chief Russ Long said. Officials expect temperatures to be slightly cooler with low relative humidity and winds out of the west Saturday.
They warn that these conditions could increase the potential for fire activity on the north and south flanks to push east. But officials say lighter winds should lessen the potential for long range spotting.
Saturday's main priority on the fire lines remains protection of the public and firefighters.
Crews plan to construct fire line near roads and hope to conduct burnout operations to keep the flames from spreading. On the west flank of the fire, crews will hold and improve line as they mop up. The Colorado River is also a primary focus.
As of 6:00 a.m. Saturday, management of the Pine Ridge Fire transitioned from the local Upper Colorado River Type 3 Incident Management Team (IMT) to the Rocky Mountain Type 1 IMT. This will give local fire management the opportunity to regroup and prepare for other initial attack and response needs.
We are told there has been one injury related to this fire, but details have not been released. Fire managers have scheduled a media briefing for Sunday morning at 10:00 when we hope to learn more about the fire and its management.