MEEKER, Colo. (CBS4) – A long line of wildland firefighting crews passed through downtown Meeker on Monday as the troubling 1,000 acre Hunter Fire continues to grow nearby.

Hunter Fire (credit: Albert Linch/BLM)

The fire is burning in the Piceance Basin about 20 miles southwest of the northwestern Colorado town, and has grown significantly in the past three days. It’s one of several fires burning in western Colorado right now.

Heavy, thick smoke from the fire has settled into the valley where Meeker is situated, and on Monday CBS4’s Mountain Newsroom crew spotted branches down from high winds that are whipping in the area.

Those 40 to 50 mph wind gusts combined with hot temperatures have caused the Hunter Fire to grow significantly. The winds also have grounded aircraft which were battling the fire over the weekend.

“We were moving around a little bit. It is pretty bad up there. It’s kind of like, have you ever been to a rodeo? Riding a bull? That’s what it feels like,” said Alex Garcia, a member of an aerial firefighting crew that flew in in their helicopter from Wyoming to fight the fire.

Alex Garcia (credit: CBS)

Oil and natural gas installations and pipelines in the area where the Hunter Fire is burning are also causing concerns for officials.

Wildfire Resources

– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Living With Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

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

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