GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A wildfire in Colorado’s high country proving to be stubborn for firefighters. The Rifle Range Fire started Monday and is estimated at nearly 600 acres Tuesday evening.

The fire is burning near Hot Sulphur Springs and Granby in Grand County and has forced the closure of a section of Highway 40 several times.

The Byers Range Fire (credit: CBS)

The Byers Range Fire (credit: CBS)

Firefighters say the wildfire started at a public gun range. People were firing guns and that sparked the fire. It quickly spread Monday afternoon into Byers Canyon and jumped over Highway 40.

Crews say they have the fire about 60 percent contained Tuesday evening. But as firefighters found out early Tuesday afternoon, conditions can change in a matter of seconds.

CBS4’s Matt Kroschel spotted flames that started out small, but before long they were towering 20 feet in the air and quickly spreading towards Highway 40.

The Byers Range Fire near Highway 40 (credit: CBS)

The Byers Range Fire near Highway 40 (credit: CBS)

“The wind is not helping. You always see that in the late afternoons in Grand County,” Schelly Olson with the Grand Fire Protection District said.

From above, drop after drop from a firefighting helicopter helped keep the flames from reaching the highway.

“A large wind shift, we had crews down there putting water on fire,” Olson said.

Conditions on Tuesday made the job of keeping the Rifle Range Fire from growing difficult. Luckily no buildings have been destroyed.

The Byers Range Fire (credit: CBS)

The Byers Range Fire (credit: CBS)

“We need to be so prepared ahead of time because it can change in a millisecond,” Olson said.

Crews began intentionally setting fires, known as back burning. They shot flares into dry brush surrounding the original fire, in order to stabilize what’s left of the vegetation and to prevent a larger wildfire from spreading in the future.

Fire danger across Colorado is on the rise thanks to warm temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions.

“All of our fuels grown, and when that happens, they dry out and you have a huge fuel loading.”

Fire crews say they are bracing for more fast moving flames in the coming weeks and say they are as prepared as they can be.

Wildfire Resources

– Visit’s Living With Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.


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