The Pine Gulch Fire was started by a lightning strike on July 31, 2020, approximately 18 miles north of Grand Junction, Colorado. Initial Attack resources were unable to corral this remote wildfire as it spread rapidly through grass, sage, pinyon juniper and fir.
The combination of drought-stressed vegetation, unseasonably hot weather and steep terrain led to weeks of active burning. Smoke columns were often visible from Grand Junction and the surrounding area as the wildfire exhibited extreme fire behavior. During the night of August 18, the fire grew quickly due to thunderstorm winds up to 40 mph for a three to four hour period. As a result, the fire increased by more than 30,000 acres that night.
Firefighters worked to protect homes and outbuildings using a combination of bulldozers and handcrews to build firelines. Road systems were used as control lines where crews initiated firing operations to slow the fire spread.
As of August 27, 2020 the Pine Gulch Fire became the largest wildfire in Colorado State history, surpassing the Hayman Fire that burned near Colorado Springs in the summer of 2002.
The Southern Area Type 1 Incident Management Red Team took command of the fire on August 30 and is coordinating efforts to complete fire containment and begin suppression repair of areas damaged by actions taken to contain the fire, such as retardant drops and building firelines.
Date of Origin:
Friday July 31st, 2020 approx. 05:15 PM
18 miles north of Grand Junction, Colorado
Mike Dueitt, Type 1 Incident Management Team, Southern Area Team
Estimated Containment Date:
Tuesday September 15th, 2020 approx. 12:00 AM
Timber (Grass and Understory)
Timber (Litter and Understory)
Brush (2 feet)
Sagebrush & Pinyon/Juniper: Lower elevations and exposed south facing canyons. Dense grouping of mature sage and juniper with simi-continous grass fuels. Live fuel woody fuel moistures 70-80%
Gambel Oak and Mixed shrub: Sheltered canyons and draws, mature gamble oak to 20' tall with mixed shrubs and patchy grass surface fuels.
Conifer Timber: High loading of dead and downed 100 & 1000 hour fuels
No fire spread is expected outside the current perimeter.
Very isolated heat sources may still be present in very sheltered heavy fuels.
- Branch I: Patrol and monitor firelines. Assess and implement suppression repair. Backhaul excess equipment;
- Branch II: Patrol and monitor firelines. Assess and implement suppression repair. Backhaul excess equipment.
Projected Incident Activity:
12 hours: Active fire behavior is not expected. A continued reduction of isolated heat sources will continue.
24 hours: Active fire behavior is not expected. A continued reduction of isolated heat sources will continue.
48 hours: Active fire behavior is not expected. A continued reduction of isolated heat sources will continue.
72 hours: Active fire behavior is not expected. A continued reduction of isolated heat sources will continue.
Area Closure: A Bureau of Land Management area closure is in effect for lands managed by the agency in the fire area. Areas are closed beyond the following road junctions:
266 Road at Highway 139, County Road 200 at County line, 21 road at entrance to Hunter Canyon, County (Roan Creek) Road 204 at 209 intersection, End of V2/10 Road at BLM closure, Q5/10 Road at 18 Road, 16 Road at V8/10 Road & Garvey Canyon Road
Note: Motorists may encounter delays in the Douglas Pass area of Highway 139 and County Road 256. For more information, please see www.facebook.com/BLMColoradoFire or www.tinyurl.com/PineGulchBLM
Both Mesa County and Garfield County continue to be in Stage 2 Fire Restrictions. BLM lands within the Grand Junction Field Office are also under Stage 2 Restrictions.
Land Ownership Breakdown: BLM 101,714 / Private: Garfield County 35,791 / Private: Mesa County 1,502
Morning low temperatures cooled down to near freezing over the Pine Gulch fire area while ample low level moisture from recent rain and snow allowed relative humidity recoveries to reach 100 percent. There were a few early morning showers around the area but very little rain, if any, fell on the fire area. Overcast skies eventually gave way to some sunshine which allowed temperatures to reach the mid-60s to low 70s.
Warmer and drier conditions are on the way as high pressure builds over the area. Temperatures will easily reach the mid to upper 70s across the lower elevation valleys and into the mid-60s up to 8,000 ft elevation. Relative humidity could drop close into the 20-30% range but melting snow will likely promote another night of strong overnight recoveries on the higher peaks and ridges. Winds will follow typical diurnal and terrain influences with just a few gusts of 20 to 25 mph along the ridgetops.
Pine Gulch Fire Information
Hours: 8am - 8pm
Fire Unit Information
Grand Junction Field Office
Bureau of Land Management
2815 H Road Grand Junction Colorado 81506