Forest / Wild Fire in USA on March 07 2017 03:57 AM (UTC).
The fire in Morgan County was a grass fire that consumed as many as 40 acres on land at Morgan County roads 10 and Y, according to Fort Morgan Fire Department First Lt./Public Information Officer Zach Deal. That blaze likely was the result of a trash burn on Sunday that was not entirely put out, he said. When the high winds really picked up "the wind found some spark in the trash pile" and it ignited the dry grass in that area. A Wiggins volunteer firefighter was the first to see the fire and call it in for response from both Wiggins Volunteer Fire Department and Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department, Deal said. The site of this fire sits right on the border of the two departments' rural fire coverage areas. The call came in for Fort Morgan firefighters to respond at 11:30 a.m. Monday, he said, and the total of 16 firefighters had it fully contained and the scene cleared by 1:57 p.m. Monday. Five firefighting units from Wiggins and three from Fort Morgan responded to the call. "We got it knocked out really quick," Deal said, adding that "the landowner was a big help." No firefighters or animals were hurt by this fire, he said, although the latter was a possibility at one point. "We were able to stop it before it got into the pasture with cows on it," Deal said. One of the things that kept this fire from spreading even more, though, was that there was "some marshland" at one end of where the blaze was headed, he said. Deal urged everyone in Morgan County to be careful about anything that could start a fire, even after the Red Flag Warning expired Monday night. "It's through the roof," Deal said of the fire danger in Morgan County right now. "Anything that's any type of a fire is a problem. We're super dry because of a bad month (for precipitation)." Enfante said he hopes that more fires would not start up yet Monday, "but it's always on my mind." He seconded Deal's call for caution about accidentally starting fires. "People need to be very careful if they're smoking," he said. "Don't throw cigarette butts on the ground while there are high winds. If it sparks, it will take off in a hurry." Such carelessness, Enfante said, then creates danger for firefighters, property owners and animals. "Be very, very careful," the emergency management director said. On top of that, Enfante advised that people also should be careful when driving in high winds. He pointed to hearing about a number of traffic accidents on state Highway 71 south of Brush on Monday. And the Colorado Department of Transportation wound up closing Highway 71 from Brush to Limon in Morgan and Washington counties due to high winds and blowing dirt affecting visibility, according to a CDOT release. In Logan County, the winds caused multiple types of hazards on Monday. The Sterling Journal-Advocate reported that a grass fire that started before 11:30 a.m. near the Proctor exit from Interstate 76 northeast of Sterling quickly spread east toward Fleming. As of 5:10 p.m. Monday, the Denver Post reported that this fire had grown to 25,000 acres. This fire caused lots of smoke, and that coupled with dirt blowing in 60-mile-per-hour winds created poor visibility on a portion of Interstate 76. That led the Colorado Department of Transportation to close the interstate from milemarkers 134 to 149 just after noon Monday, as well as closing state Highway 55, which connects I-76 to Fleming. A bit before 2 p.m. Monday, CDOT closed state Highway 59 north of Haxtun to I-76 in Phillips County, the Journal-Advocate reported, as the fire had jumped the highway, fire crews were reporting. Highway 55 was reopened before 3 p.m. Monday, according to the Journal-Advocate. The closed portion of I-76 remained closed into the evening Monday, according to the CDOT website's travel advisories. As 3:10 p.m. Monday, the Logan County fire had consumed at least one structure and was threatening others, according to a news release from the Logan County Emergency Management Office. No injuries had been reported at that time. At least 900 phone numbers from an area of east Logan County received pre-evacuation notification calls, the release stated. School evacuations happened at Fleming, Caliche and Haxtun schools. At least 12 fire departments participated in fighting this fire, including ones from Sterling, Fleming, Peetz, Merino, Crook, Haxtun, Ovid, Sedgwick, Fort Collins, Holyoke, Yuma and New Raymer, according to the release.