The Pine Gulch Fire was started by a lightning strike on July 31, 2020, approximately 18 miles north of Grand Junction, Colorado. The combination of drought-stressed vegetation, unseasonably hot weather, and steep terrain led to weeks of active burning and smoke in Mesa County. On August 27, 2020, the Pine Gulch Fire became the largest wildfire in Colorado State history, surpassing the Hayman Fire that burned near Colorado Springs in 2002. The fire burned in both Mesa and Garfield Counties and shutdown Hwy 139 for several days. By the year's end, the Pine Gulch Fire was surpassed by the Cameron Peak (208,913 acres) and East Troublesome Fires 193,812 acres).
Before, During, and After Wildfire
Wildfire is a significant hazard in Mesa County. Due to the county's geographic makeup and climate, wildfire is always a concern. However, the threat of this hazard is more severe during droughts and dry spells. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office encourages citizens to know what to do before, during, and after a wildfire.
Remove excess trees, dead trees and shrubs, and highly flammable shrubs. (Removing large trees near your house can be very dangerous for both you and your house and is, therefore, a job for a skilled contractor.) Rather than plant shrubs near your house, consider landscaping alternatives such as creating a rock garden. Remove leaves and pine needles from roofs, gutters, and downspouts. Prune low tree branches and mow-dried grass. Remove combustible items from around the house, such as woodpiles, patio furniture, barbecue grills, etc.
Develop a family disaster response plan complete with escape routes and an emergency meeting place. Have an emergency go-kit with supplies, valuable papers, and mementos readily available. This should include prescription medication and back-up eyeglasses/contacts.
Review your homeowners/renters insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage. Arrange temporary housing outside of the threatened area and make arrangements for relocating pets and animals. Also, register to receive community and emergency alerts from the 911 call center on your cell phone.
Stay tuned to your local radio and television stations for updates on evacuations. When an evacuation order is issued, please leave the area immediately. If you need assistance evacuating, call 911.
- Review your Evacuation Plan Checklist.
- Ensure your Emergency Supply Kit is in your vehicle.
- Cover-up to protect against heat and flying embers. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, heavy shoes/boots, cap, dry bandanna for face cover, goggles, or glasses. 100% cotton is preferable.
- Locate your pets and take them with you.
If you need assistance evacuating or sheltering livestock, please call (970) 244-1835
Check the roof and the attic immediately for hidden embers. Watch for flare-ups for several hours after the fire. Continue establishing defensible space around your home. For more information, go to www.firewise.org. Determine the potential for flooding and the need for erosion control. Consider mitigation during home improvements or the reconstruction process. This could include such items as Fire-resistant roofing materials such as asphalt shingles or metal roofs Tempered glass on windows, doors, and skylights Spark arresters in chimneys Fire-resistant materials on undersides of decks Verify that your driveway bridges and gates will accommodate fire trucks. Consider purchasing flood insurance.
Read more at sheriff.mesacounty.us/FireInformation/