Update: New wildfire grows to 2,100 acres, U.S. 40 in Moffat County remains closed | SteamboatToday.com

Update: New wildfire grows to 2,100 acres, U.S. 40 in Moffat County remains closed

Staff Report

A Colorado Department of Transportation traffic camera just east of Elk Springs shows the smoky conditions on U.S. Highway 40 west of Maybell.

4:40 p.m. Within the past 30 minutes, the Winter Valley Fire burning in western Moffat County has jumped from 500 to 2,180 acres, according to Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Courtney Whiteman, and is headed north and east towards Deerlodge Park.

"It's growing due to high winds and it has crossed U.S. Highway 40," said Moffat County Undersheriff Charlene Abdella. "There are mandatory evacuations in the area."

The blaze broke out around noon today about a mile and half south of Elk Springs, Whiteman said, and is growing rapidly due to wind gusts near 50 miles per hour.

Scanner reports indicate that flames are now visible from Deerlodge Park, where residents and hunters are being evacuated.

A type 3 incident management team has been called in to fight the blaze, and hotshot crews and large tankers have been ordered in to battle the fast-moving flames. The fire is burning on BLM and private lands in greater sage grouse habitat, Whiteman said.

4:00 p.m.  According to scanner traffic, some remote households in the vicinity of the fire are being evacuated.

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3:45 p.m. The fire has been named the Winter Valley Fire and has burned more than 100 acres about a mile and a half south of Elk Springs, according to Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Courtney Whiteman.

Some radio towers and natural gas lines are currently threatened, and a large tanker from Boulder and a hot shot crew have been called in to help fight the flames.

As of about 3 p.m., officials were working to set up a detour to re-route westbound traffic along Moffat County Road 57 or Price Creek Road and eastbound traffic along Colorado Highway 64 near Dinosaur and Blue Mountain, according to scanner traffic.

2:45 p.m. A wind-driven brush fire has closed U.S. Highway 40 in both directions between about mile posts 35 and 44 near Elk Springs and west of Maybell, according to Colorado State Patrol Captain Doug Conrad.

The fire was first reported around noon at about 10 to 15 acres south of Elk Springs. According to scanner traffic, the fast-moving fire doubled in size within about 20 minutes.

Heavy smoke is causing low visibility on the highway, according to reports over the scanner. Officials closed the road as of 2:19 p.m. as the fire quickly approaches due to high winds, Conrad said.

The Bureau of Land Management is working the fire while State Patrol and the Colorado Department of Transportation assist with the road closure. It's unknown when the highway will re-open.

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