The Bull Draw Fire, burning in a remote area 12 miles northwest of Nucla, has grown to 14,042 acres – more than 5,000 acres in 24 hours.
Containment remained at an estimated 35 percent. The estimated containment date is Aug. 19.
The fire has been consuming heavy fuels and burning through more resistant fuels such as aspen and pasture, according to the incident command team, led by commander Brian Pisarek.
The fire is considered the top priority in the Rocky Mountain region, meaning that it would be the first to receive new resources. By comparison, the Plateau Fire north of Dolores was ranked No. 3.
Fuel moisture remains low, and there is still potential for severe fire behavior. There was a chance of rain Friday, though winds could push the fire’s advance, the incident command said. Hot and dry conditions were expected to continue, posing the threat of tree torching and significant gains by the fire.
The fire remained active Friday on the northern, Mesa County side. The fire has crossed South Fork Mesa Creek and overnight approached cabins in Campbell Point.
Much of Thursday’s growth came on the fire’s east side, and the fire pushed southeast in Montrose County, where it was slowed by helicopter water drops.
In the northeast, burnout operations stalled the fire as it advanced toward Divide Road, which is a focal point for firefighting crews on the ground and in the air.
Along the south and southwestern flank, hand crews continued to monitor for heat along existing fire lines.
A section of western flank remains lightly staffed. Fire managers scouted the western side of the fire for opportunities to engage the fire.
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests on Wednesday closed about 17 miles of Divide Road.
On Monday and Tuesday, the Bureau of Land Management implemented an emergency closure for the Bull Draw area, including Montrose county roads S15, S17, R23, Z26 and all BLM roads, trails and land.
Although the fire forced the evacuation of a home and several cabins last weekend, no structures have been lost, public information officer Kimberlee J. Phillips of the U.S. Forest Service said in a news release.