Fire near Maybell contained |

Fire near Maybell contained

Officials: Alkali blaze grew to 7,917 acres at its peak

Andy Bockelman

Bureau of Land Management fire crews patrol the boundary of the 7,900-acre Alkali fire north of Maybell in Moffat County on Thursday evening. The fire, burning mostly on private land, is 100 percent contained.

At its peak, the Alkali fire north of Maybell reached 7,917 acres, the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit reported. However, fire crews were able to contain the fire Thursday afternoon.

The blaze, thought to have been caused by lightning, was reported at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday 10 miles north of Maybell. The fire entailed 800 acres of Bureau of Land Management land, and the rest was private land, fire officials reported.

A single engine fixed wing aircraft with a spotter reported the fire, with 30-foot flames, to the Fire Management Unit.

Although the size was initially 10 acres, the fire progressed to 650 acres by 6:30 p.m. Wednesday because of high winds and erratic storm cells. The fire grew to 1,000 acres by 8:30 p.m. and was at 6,500 acres by Thursday morning.

Fire whirls and the land's overall dry vegetation also contributed to the quick spread, which destroyed one outbuilding but no residences.

No injuries were reported from the blaze.

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Jeremy Cast­er­son, acting associate field manager for the BLM, said firefighters were astounded by the speed of the fire and how easily the 40 mile per hour winds caused it to spread.

"These were guys who were used to fighting brush fires, and they hadn't seen anything like that before," Casterson said.

Fire personnel from the Moffat County Sheriff's Office, the BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Craig Hot Shots, Maybell Fire and Moffat County Road and Bridge, among others, worked at putting out the fire until 2 a.m. Thursday.

The Fire Management Unit reported the fire as being 80 percent contained around 8 a.m. Thursday before being fully contained in the afternoon.

The temporary closures of Moffat County Roads 19 and 21, 5 miles north of Maybell, and Roads 7 and 8 were lifted Thursday morning.

Lynn Barclay, spokeswoman for the Fire Management Unit, said the size of the fire was a formidable obstacle for any group to take on and that teamwork was a vital element, with about 50 people lending aid.

"Everybody working together is what made such a successful outcome," she said.

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