Bull Draw Fire slows as weather favors firefighters

Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 6:01 PM
The Bull Draw Fire on Friday grew to 28,130 acres
A fire engine crew member on a Bull Draw Fire line.
A firefighter monitors a planned firing operation in the Bull Draw Fire.
The Bull Draw Fire’s progression, Aug. 18.
The Bull Draw Fire’s operations map, Aug. 18.
Bull Draw Fire closures.

The Bull Draw Fire northwest of Nucla grew to 28,390 acres by Saturday morning.

The fire was 21 percent contained, and more than 300 personnel worked on the fire, according to the Minnesota Incident Command System Type 2 Blue Team, led by incident commander Brian Pisarek. The Blue Team will turn over command to another team on Tuesday and get a needed rest.

Friday’s growth, the smallest reported daily increase since the early days of the fire, was attributed to the fire’s crawl up Beaver Branch, Garvey and Long Canyons.

Meanwhile, three masticators worked to thin the forest and remove understory fuels along Uranium Road to help contain the fire in the northwest. Crews cleared vegetation and placed 2,000- to 3,000-gallon water tanks known as “pumpkins,” along with pumps and hose, near the Uncompahgre Butte Communication Site and other structures northeast of the fire’s edge.

Saturday, crews tried to secure the fire line in the southeast corner to Divide Road and placed hose systems along the fire line below the Divide Road.

Crews mopped up hot spots in the fire’s southern perimeter. The western flank remained unstaffed as the fire crept toward natural fire barriers.

Dry weather was expected to give way on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the fire grew about 700 acres, to a total of 28,000 acres. The fired moved gradually through aspen groves at higher elevations, then burned more aggressively as it encountered conifers. Firefighters closed gaps in the fire line on the southern and southeastern perimeter and worked to secure and cool down the line. Heavy equipment was used to strengthen a contingency line designed to keep the fire from hooking back toward homes north of Nucla.

On Wednesday, the fire grew 950 acres, to 27,320 acres, as the fire pushed farther north into Deep Canyon, Willow Canyon and Beaver Branch. Upslope afternoon winds facilitated its northern push.

Burnout operations and a masticator removed vegetation as a buffer for the group of homes in the Campbell Point area.

Closures and restrictions widenLate this week, additional road closures and fire restrictions were ordered, and the Bull Draw Fire began to threaten hunting season.

On Friday, the Bureau of Land Management on Friday implemented Stage 1 fire restrictions on lands managed by the Uncompahgre field office within Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray, Gunnison and Delta counties.

The following acts are prohibited:

Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or stove fire. Exceptions are petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices, as well as fires in permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed recreation sites.Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, in a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.The use of fireworks, flares, or other incendiary devices, including exploding targets, are always prohibited on federal lands.Exemptions include authorized activities of any federal, state or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting effort in the performance of an official duty. Holders of valid BLM permits, leases and authorizations are allowed to conduct approved activities.

On Thursday, the Bull Draw Fire closure expanded beyond BLM road and trail closures to include a wider area of U.S. National Forest lands, roads and trails.

For updated information, visit the Bull Draw Facebook page at

The closures might also affect hunters in Game Management Unit 61. Hunters who have questions about the options may call the Colorado Parks and Wildlife office at 970-252-6000.