A wildfire caused by a lightning strike burns through pinyon and juniper trees Monday south of Elk Springs in Moffat County. Fire engines, a hand crew and a helicopter are fighting the 200-acre fire.

Garner Harris, Bureau of Land Management

A wildfire caused by a lightning strike burns through pinyon and juniper trees Monday south of Elk Springs in Moffat County. Fire engines, a hand crew and a helicopter are fighting the 200-acre fire.

Wildfire continues in Moffat County

Fire engines, a hand crew, helicopter fight the 200-acre blaze

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— A wildfire south of Elk Springs in Moffat County that was ignited by lightning Monday afternoon continues to burn today. Fire engines, a hand crew and a helicopter are combating the blaze that is estimated to be burning 200 acres of pinyon and juniper trees on Bureau of Land Management lands.

According to a news release issued by the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit, the fire threatens no structures and had not gained any acreage this morning. The weather forecast for Moffat County calls for a chance of thunderstorms Wednesday and Thursday, but the fire unit is concerned that storms could do more to increase the severity of the fire rather than help prevent it.

“Their biggest concern are going to be winds,” said Lynn Barclay, spokeswoman for the Fire Management Unit. “Even if we get the thunderstorms, the moisture that’s likely to be with the storms is going to be isolated and marginal. Our bigger concern are downdrafts that could hamper control efforts by creating erratic fire behavior.”

Barclay said the unit was busy investigating at least five other reports of smoke sightings in Moffat County that were called in this morning. The Elk Springs Fire was one of two fires ignited by lightning Monday. A 26-acre wildfire 10 miles northeast of Maybell on private lands was contained by 10:30 p.m. Monday.

Although fire danger in Rio Blanco and Moffat counties is very high, the fire danger in Routt County remains moderate to high. There are no reports of new fires in Routt County. Barclay said the number of fires so far this year in Blanco, Moffat, and Routt counties seems to be lower than in previous years.

“We may be a little behind where we typically are up to this point,” she said. “Now we still have a month and a half, two months to go in the season.”

Bob Struble, Routt County emergency management director, also said the number of fires in Routt County so far this year has been light compared with previous seasons.

“Overall, we’re having a good fire year as far as being safe,” he said.

— To reach Scott Franz, call 871-4210 or e-mail scottfranz@steamboatpilot.com

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