Area wildfires leave haze over Steamboat Springs |

Area wildfires leave haze over Steamboat Springs

— Smoke filled the Yampa Valley and ash was falling from the sky Friday afternoon after wildfires started in hot and dry conditions near Hayden and in Moffat County.

At about 2:30 p.m. Friday, a wildfire was reported near the Hayden Station power plant along Routt County Road 51B.

The fire spread quickly in the grass fields south of the powerplant and burned about 40 acres. Firefighters from the West Rout, Oak Creek and Steamboat Springs fire protection districts responded to the fire, which was put out at about 5 p.m.

"The (coal truck) haul roads as well as the county roads pretty well contained the fire," West Routt Fire Protection Chief Bryan Rickman said.

He said when he first got to the fire, the smoke was so thick that he could not see the Mount Harris power substation, which was threatened by the fire.

The fire burned right up to the substation, which is partially owned by Yampa Valley Electric Association and supplies power to Twentymile Mine. It did not appear to have any damage.

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Several power line poles caught fire but remained standing.

Rickman said it was unclear how the fire started. None of the power lines were down, but he suspected someone threw a cigarette from a vehicle.

Other fires

In Moffat County, the Wolf and Divide fires, south of U.S. Highway 40 in Moffat County west of Craig, were creating a large amount smoke, according to a news release from the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit.

Winds as fast as 35 mph pushed the Wolf Fire to more than 300 acres Friday evening on Bureau of Land Management land, according to the release. In addition to hand crews and engines, two single engine air tankers were dropping retardant to help slow the fire's spread.

The Divide Fire was estimated at about 100 acres Friday evening and was burning in sagebrush and pinion and juniper trees, according to the release. No structures were threatened in either fire.

A smaller fire also burned about an acre on Routt County Road 14E south of Steamboat and partially was contained by nearby roads.

A red flag warning is in effect for Northwest Colorado through 9 p.m. Friday because of dry fuels, low humidity and gusty winds.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

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