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Blaze along Utah-Colorado border tops 6,000 acres

Published May 30, 2012 12:30 pm

Sunrise Mine fire • Crews have flames 70 percent contained.
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A wildfire that had burned more than 6,000 acres along southeastern Utah's border with Colorado was about 70 percent contained as of Wednesday night.

Mary Christensen, spokeswoman for the Rocky Basin 2 Incident Management Team, said the Sunrise Mine blaze — which began just southwest of Gateway, Colo., on May 25 — was expected to be fully contained sometime Sunday.

About 620 firefighters and support staff were trying to close containment lines around the blaze, which was burning in high desert grasses and forests and has periodically burned near 10 homes and 15 outbuildings. Crews were getting support from several water-bearing helicopters, Christensen said.

On Wednesday, authorities closed the Buckeye Reservoir Road, R 1 Road and John Brown Road to the public to maximize firefighters' access. Also closed was an area stretching from Carpenter and Sinbad ridges in Colorado and Utah to Buckeye Basin and all Manti-La Sal National Forest lands in Colorado north of Willow Basin and Buckeye creeks.

Christensen said crews had completed containment lines along the northern edge of the fire, but heavy, dry vegetation and rough terrain made firefighting efforts difficult along Roc Creek, on the blaze's northwestern perimeter. By Wednesday afternoon, though, a shift in winds was aiding firefighters, blowing the flames back onto themselves, she said.

"We've also had heavy helicopters out, dumping loads of water on the fire about every 15 minutes today," she said.

Two firefighters have been taken off the lines due to illness. No structural losses had been reported.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation.





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