The northeast edge of the Alkali Fire burns 5,000 acres north of Moffat County Roads 8 and 7.

Photo by Lauren Blair

The northeast edge of the Alkali Fire burns 5,000 acres north of Moffat County Roads 8 and 7.

Alkali Fire jumps to 8,000 acres, burns homestead and barn

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The Alkali Fire quickly jumped to 8,000 acres on Wednesday, threatening the lives of three people before it burned a homestead and a barn, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

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Ed Brannan watches his land burn from a safe vantage point on the southwestern edge of the fire. He and his brother, John Brannan, own 6,000 acres in the area. It is unknown how much of their land has burned in the Alkali Fire, which has now consumed more than 8,000 acres.

The fire is burning grass and sagebrush on private land roughly 14 miles northeast of Maybell near Moffat County Road 19. Flames were reported to authorities at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

No containment time has been established.

“Three people were evacuated from the area,” according to BLM.

Brothers Ed and John Brannan own 6,000 acres where the fire is burning, and it’s not clear how much of their land has been affected.

John Brannan and two of his workers were rolling a wire fence when they were told to evacuate the area. Ed Brannan was in Maybell when he first saw smoke to the north, and he rushed back to discover that his land was on fire.

“Dry as it is and with the wind blowing, who knows where it will go,” Ed Brannan said.

The Bannan brothers have 200 cattle on the plot of land where the fire is burning, yet it appeared that the fire was moving away from the animals late Wednesday afternoon.

Pipelines are also present in the area, posing a concern for firefighters.

“The biggest challenge for firefighters is shifting wind from thunder cells and dry fuels,” Incident Commander Todd Wheeler with the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “Safety to firefighters and citizens in the area is our top priority.”

BLM outlined that the following fire authorities are assigned to the incident: three Moffat County engines; one Craig Fire Rescue engine; one BLM engine; one Browns Park Refuge engine; one single-engine air tanker; two Moffat County water tenders; and two Moffat County road maintainers.

Thursday morning, two 20-person Colorado State Wildfire Crews and two additional Moffat County road maintainers will assist with firefighting efforts.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

So far, the only injury reported is that one firefighter received minor smoke inhalation.

John Brannan tried to assist with the firefighting efforts by providing his water truck to authorities.

Two graters worked to create a fire line at the scene.

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