In case you missed it, there's a new fire burning in Colorado and it grew to more than 300 acres in a single day, burning in some of the state's driest terrain.
UPDATE: As of 2:30 PM on June 9, no new update has been posted to the Rio Blanco County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. Check for an update here.
On June 8, smoke was spotted south of Rangely a little after noon. Upon investigation, the smoke was determined to be coming from a new wildfire, since dubbed the 'Dragon Fire', that had been sparked by lightning approximately 15 miles south of town.
Located in northwest Colorado near the Utah border, Rangely is known for its desert terrain, popular among off-road vehicle enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the same desert terrain that is a draw for tourism to the area also tends to be very dry and flammable.
According to a late night Tuesday press release, the fire has since grown to 322 acres with red flag conditions expected to continue due to gusty winds, low humidity, and dry fuels.
Currently burning juniper and pinyon, officials say that the "potential for fire activity remains high." They've also asked the public to avoid the area.
Multiple agencies are on the scene fighting the blaze, including the Rangely Fire Department, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Rio Blanco County Sheriff's Office. As of the last press release (6/8/21; 11:30 PM), the fire was a zero percent containment.
While this fire is producing smoke in the local area, much of the smoke visible statewide is moving into Colorado from fires located in Arizona and New Mexico.
According to the US Drought Monitor, the northwest corner of the state is currently experiencing 'exceptional drought' conditions, the worst of the four stages of drought that are tracked by the service. As of June 4, the snow water equivalent in the Yampa & White River Basin, home to Rangely, was at just 42 percent of the to-date median. Much of the western slope is far below the median, particularly the southwest corner, with the statewide percent of median at 63 percent.