RIFLE, Colo. (CBS4) – The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office announced pre-evacuation orders Tuesday for areas near the Middle Mamm Fire. Officials said the fire was caused by lightning about ten miles south of Rifle on July 28. It is currently 961 acres and 2% contained.
The pre-evacuation order is a precautionary measure ahead of high winds expected Wednesday. There is currently a soft road closure, limiting traffic to residents at West Mamm Creek (CR 319) and Shaeffer Cut-off (CR 322). The sheriff’s office said this could become a hard closure with only emergency responders allowed access.
Officials said they may close the intersection of Mamm Creek Road (CR 315) and Knuckles cut-off (CR 316). People who live south and southwest of these two points are under a pre-evacuation order and encouraged to be on high alert.
The BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office issued a temporary closure notice for BLM land in the area of the Middle Mamm Fire for firefighter and public safety.
More than 200 people are currently working on the fire including hotshot crews, structure protection fire engines, individual personnel from all over the country and local county resources.
In anticipation of high winds, crews spent Monday reinforcing firelines and reducing fuels to help protect private property and minimize the fire’s spread. On Tuesday, helicopters continued to drop water on the fire using the calm weather to their advantage.
Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team Black will take over the management of the fire Wednesday. According to the Middle Mamm Facebook page, the group is a type 2 national response unit that brings experienced management and support to a more complex fire.
Officials said late season fires like the Middle Mamm Fire can bring added challenges. High winds Wednesday will be followed by a cold front Thursday and possible snow.
“We have to prepare our crews and their fire camp for both extremes. This adds to the complexity of managing this fire,” said Incident Commander Jeremy Spetter.
Officials are warning people not to fly unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones over or near wildfires. On Tuesday, officials said an unauthorized drone incursion forced crews to halt air operations on the fire.
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