RIO BLANCO COUNTY, Colo. — A wildfire on the Western Slope grew beyond 300 acres ahead of a Red Flag Warning day Wednesday and Thursday.
As of Wednesday evening, the Dragon Fire was 50% contained.
Around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Rangely Police Department Communications Center received several 911 calls about smoke south of Rangely near County Road 23.
The Rangely Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management and Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area — about 15 miles south of Rangely — and found a wildfire burning in juniper and pinyon trees.
Overnight into Wednesday, the sheriff's office said the fire had grown to 322 acres and was 0% contained. They said they believe it was caused by lightning.
As of Wednesday, County Road 113, County Road 105, and County Road 23 at mile marker 5 were closed to the public so fire personnel can travel to and from the burning areas.
On Wednesday evening, the sheriff's office said County Road 23 would reopen Thursday morning. In this same announcement, the sheriff's office said the fire was 50% contained thanks to wind gusts staying weaker than expected through the day, but gusts up to 50 mph were possible Thursday.
Crews are fighting the fire from the ground and air.
Smoke may be visible from Highway 64, Highway 139, Rangely, Meeker, and Highway 40, the sheriff's office said. Because the fire is remote, the smoke is not expected to cause any health issues for residents.
A Red Flag Warning remained in effect for this area from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and again 9 a.m. to midnight on Thursday due to the wind, low relative humidity and dry fuels.