Lightning has started at least 24 new fires in Northwest Colorado since Sunday, including three areas. The main fire in the Mayberry area has covered about 27,000 acres.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Lightning has started at least 24 new fires in Northwest Colorado since Sunday, including three areas. The main fire in the Mayberry area has covered about 27,000 acres.

Fires consume Moffat acreage

All three main blazes still burning as of late Tuesday

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Crews from county and state agencies fought three main fires Tuesday that raged across Moffat County.

As of Tuesday afternoon, none of the three blazes was contained. At least two were expected to be contained by Thursday.

Together, the three fires consumed about 32,850 acres.

Lightning strikes caused the fires, along with more than 24 others that were started since Sunday.

Crews from multiple agencies in the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit, including the Bureau of Land Management and the Moffat County Sheriff's Department, responded to the blazes.

What crews are calling the Mayberry fire was the largest of the three, consuming an estimated 27,000 acres 32 miles northwest of Craig. About 30 gas wells are located in the area, according to a BLM news release.

However, gas at the wells was turned off before the flames approached, said David Boyd, public affairs specialist for the BLM's northwest Colorado region.

As of Tuesday evening, the Mayberry fire was 50 percent contained and was expected to come fully under firefighters' control by Thursday.

The Lone fire, located on private land 15 miles north of Elk Springs, raged through 950 acres and was 75 percent contained Tuesday night. The third inferno, the Prong fire, was temporarily contained after it had devoured 4,900 acres 23 miles northwest of Craig.

At around 7 p.m. Tuesday, however, the fire had jumped containment lines.

Moffat County Road 8 near the Prong fire was closed Monday. To Boyd's knowledge, all Moffat County roads were reopened as of late Tuesday evening.

Three homes - one near the Mayberry fire and two near the Lone fire - were threatened by the fires. However, as of Tuesday afternoon, no structures or livestock reportedly had been consumed by the flames, Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said, adding that a historical graveyard had burned over.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers saw each of the fire sites first-hand, including the Mayberry fire.

"It was devastating," he said.

Mathers saw where the flames came close to a gas plant in western Moffat County.

"The gas plant was burnt up to the chain link fence on all three sides," Mathers said.

And, around the plant, "it was just solid black as far as you could see, around it and behind it," he said.

Jantz gave credit to the crews who had worked on the fires, including the Moffat County Sheriff's Office wildland fire team and the Moffat County Road and Bridge Department.

"Those guys have busted their behinds," he said.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

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