At 3:09 PM the Grand Junction Fire Department was dispatched to a growing brushfire threatening four houses. The caller indicated that fireworks were seen in the area. Red Flag conditions caused the fire to spread rapidly, traveling uphill towards homes on Skyway Drive and Promontory Court to the west. Two fire engines with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office Wildland Fire Team, who were patrolling specifically in case fires started because of the Fourth of July holiday, also immediately responded. The first fire crews on scene worked quickly to determine the best access to the fire, as it continued to grow in the ravine between the two neighborhoods. Command requested additional engines from GJFD and assistance from BLM to help combat the blaze.
By 3:46 PM the Incident Dispatch Team (IDT) was requested to respond to the scene; allowing communications to be handled at the location of the fire while emergency calls continued throughout the City of Grand Junction. Officers from the Grand Junction Police Department and Mesa County Sheriff’s office on scene began assisting with traffic control and working with command to determine if any evacuations would be necessary. A yellow five-inch hose traveled the length of Vista Grande Road to the nearest fire hydrant supplying critical water to fire operations. Roads were blocked off at the intersection of Vista Grande Road and Skyway Drive to prevent vehicles from blocking emergency vehicles or driving over hoses. Requested air resources begin the hour-long flight to the location of the fire. Colorado Parks and Wildlife evacuated Connected Lakes State Park as a precaution.
At 4:44 PM the Type 1 aircraft arrives and begins dropping water on the fire running parallel to Riverview Drive. Ground crews continue to work the fire and indicate priority locations for the air drops. Patrol units from the GJPD and MCSO begin evacuating homes along Riverview Drive. Strong winds were pushing the fire directly up the hill towards the houses lining Riverview Drive. In total 7 homes were evacuated.
At 4:55 PM IDT arrives on scene and takes over communications. Brush 4 is staged on Riverview Drive as crews continue to beat back the fire threatening houses. The fire reached the fence line of several homes before being extinguished.
At 5:03 PM Monument Baptist Church was opened for anyone being evacuated from the fire. Xcel Energy was requested to respond to determine if any power poles had been damaged by the fire.
5:49 PM The Type 1 aircraft had approximately 15 more minutes of fuel and priority locations were determined.
6:33 PM A community notification was sent advising home owners on Riverview Drive that they could return to their homes. The Evacuation Center at Monument Baptist Church was not needed and was closed.
BY 6:52 PM The fire was 60% contained. Crews continued to access hard to reach areas adjacent to Connected Lakes. MCSO volunteers a boat for areas of active fire that can only be reached by water. By 9:36 PM the fire was 100% contained.
It was determined the fire was caused by a juvenile setting off illegal fireworks. The case is currently under investigation by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.
This morning, Friday, June 5th, crews from GJFD and MCSO Wildland Fire Team returned to the area to continue putting out hot spots and to mitigate hazard trees damaged by the fire. Citizens returning to the Connected Lakes and the nearby walking trails should use caution when traveling in areas near blackened damaged trees.
The GJFD would like to thank: The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office Wildland Team, Bureau of Land Management, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Junction Police Department, The Grand Junction Regional Communication Center Incident Dispatch Team, and Pastor Ray Shirley from the Monument Baptist Church.
During Red Flag conditions the smallest spark or flame can spread out of control very quickly. Please take extra precautions while using tools or any equipment that can produce sparks or heat. Check for weather conditions from the National Weather Service at http://www.weather.gov
For more information on these incidents contact the Community Outreach Office at (970)549-5858 or by e-mail at GJFirePIO@gjcity.org.