Two wildfires are currently burning north of Hotchkiss this afternoon. Both fires are believed to be caused by lightning as the area received numerous lightning strikes during the past 24 hours. Smoke may be visible in the area throughout the day and may settle into valleys overnight.
The Oak Mesa Fire, located approximately five miles north-northwest of Hotchkiss, was reported at 12:01 a.m. this morning. The Oak Mesa Fire is burning in pinion-juniper on BLM-managed lands and is currently estimated at 0.1 acre. There are no threats to life or property at this time. One BLM crew is currently working to suppress the fire and full containment is estimated to occur on Saturday.
The Chaining Fire was reported at 12:30 p.m. today and is located approximately four miles north of Hotchkiss. The Chaining Fire appears to be burning on private land at this time, but is adjacent to BLM-managed lands. The size is currently estimated at 4 acres. There are no threats to life or property at this time. Current on scene resources include firefighters from the Hotchkiss Fire Protection District and a fixed-wing aircraft. Additional firefighters from Montrose Interagency Fire Management Unit and a federal-contract single engine air tanker (SEAT) are expected to arrive later this afternoon.
A Red Flag Warning was issued this afternoon covering much of west central Colorado; including the area of the fires. The Red Flag Warning, due to gusty winds, low relative humidity, and dry fuels, is in effect until 8:00 p.m. this evening. A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential.
Source: Montrose Interagency Fire Management Unit
For information on wildfires and restrictions in the area, call the MIFMU Fire Information line (970.240.1070), visit the MIFMU website (http://gacc.nifc.gov/rmcc/dispatch_centers/r2mtc/), or follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/MIFMU) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/BLMMontroseFireUnit).