Additional resources arriving to fight the Citadel and East Tschuddi fires

A type 2 Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team has been ordered to assume management of the Citadel and Tschuddi fires.  The RMIMT is expected to arrive this evening in Meeker and meet with county, state and federal managers for a briefing on the fire situation. Today five single engine air tankers and two helicopters are assigned to the Citadel and East Tschuddi fires.  They will be providing aerial reconnaissance and dropping retardant to slow the fires spread.

Citadel Fire, Moffat County: Fire crews worked late into the evening conducting a burnout operation off a road on the southwest side of the Citadel Fire in order to establish an anchor point. This provides a safe area for fire fighters to begin building fire line. The fire remained active through the night and terrain is rough hard to access. Crews assigned to the Citadel incident include two hot shot crews, one type 1 initial attack crew, two type 2 20-person hand crews, and Moffat County Road and Bridge equipment including a water tender. Picture of Citadel Fire courtesy of BLM.  Click on photo to enlarge.

At last report the fire is: esitmated at 1,600 acres; lightning caused; started on Bureau of Land Management land and burned on to state land; vegetation is timber, sagebrush and pinion and juniper trees; 0% contained; reported July 21, 2013; 40 miles northwest of Meeker; no injuries reported; and three structures are threatened.

Tschuddi Fire, Rio Blanco County: Crews worked yesterday building fire line on the east and south flanks of the fire. The blaze was active on the south flank last night. The Tschuddi Fire started on BLM land and moved on to Colorado Parks and Wildlife land. Yesterday crews took actions to protect a historical CPW by burning out around the cabin which removes fuel for the fire.  Another CPW cabin is one and one half mile northeast of the blaze. Crews assigned to the East Tschuddi incident are one hot shot crew, one type 2 20-person hand crew, one squad and one water tender.  Picture of Tchuddi Fire courtesy of BLM.  Click on photo to enlarge.

The fire currently is: 652 acres; lightning caused; vegetation is oak brush; timber, and pinion and juniper trees;  5% contained; reported July 20, 2013; 20 miles northwest of Meeker; no injuries; and one structure threatened.

More warm, dry conditions are expected through tomorrow evening.  Fire danger is high in Moffat and Rio Blanco Counties.



Craig firefighters responded to a vehicle fire yesterday morning on Moffat County Road 27, also known as Black Mountain Road.  According to Fire Chief Bill Johnston, an RV caught fire on the road at around 9:30.  While the cause of the fire may never be known, due to the extent of the damage, it is suspected that a propane driven appliance is responsible.  The R.V. burned to the ground.  Firefighters were able to keep the flames from reaching the surrounding forest.  There were no injuries.



The Moffat County Road Department will be starting a chip seal project tomorrow.  They’ll be starting on Moffat County Road 7, north of the intersection of Moffat County Roads 7 and 183 (the bypass) to the end of the pavement. There will be traffic delays while they put the chips down.  The project is expected to last through August 1st.  If you have questions, you can call the Road and Bridge Department at 824-3211.



Federal officials have announced a new federal, local and private partnership to help reduce the risk of wildfires that could threaten western water supplies and hydroelectric facilities. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were in northern Colorado for the announcement Friday of the Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership. The U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are launching the partnership with a pilot project in the Upper Colorado headwaters and Big Thompson watershed in northern Colorado, where a destructive fire burned last year. In the pilot, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and Colorado State Forest Service will work with the federal agencies on forest thinning, prescribed burns and restoring burned forests near reservoirs and dams. The federal agencies are working on similar arrangements around the West.



Last week, Congressman Scott Tipton voted to restore local control of education decisions, empowering parents, teachers and states with the ability to ensure that students receive the best possible education. The House passed the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) and it now goes to the Senate. The bill eliminates Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and replaces it with state-determined accountability systems, thereby returning authority for measuring student performance to states and school districts. It eliminates federally mandated actions and interventions currently required of poor performing schools, giving states and districts maximum flexibility to develop appropriate school improvement strategies and rewards for their schools. It also repeals federal “Highly Qualified Teacher” requirements and directs states and school districts to develop teacher evaluation systems that measure an educator’s influence on student learning. Those evaluations must be locally developed and implemented within broad parameters that factor in student achievement, incorporate multiple measures, and include feedback from all stakeholders. It consolidates a myriad of existing K-12 education programs into a new Local Academic Flexible Grant, which provides funding to states and school districts to support local priorities that improve student achievement. It supports opportunities for parents to enroll their children in local magnet schools and charter schools, and enhances statewide parental engagement. And finally, the bill protects state and local autonomy over decisions in the classroom by limiting the authority of the secretary of education, including by eliminating the secretary’s ability to inappropriately influence state decisions to adopt the Common Core or other common standards or assessments.



People aren’t always looking to just hike, camp or ski when they head to U.S. Forest Service lands. The agency Friday released a summary of a 2012 visitor survey. It said 37 percent of respondents said they spent time simply relaxing when they visited Forest Service lands. When asked about their primary recreation activities, the most common responses were hiking or walking; downhill skiing; and viewing natural features. The Forest Service counts roughly 160 million visitors each year, and about 16 percent are age 16 or younger. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that while national budget cuts have limited the availability of some facilities this year, he doesn’t expect a significant dip in visitors.



Colorado nonfarm payroll jobs were up 11,000 from May to June, exceeding the previous peak by 4,800 jobs over May 2008. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said yesterday the unemployment rate increased a tenth of a percentage point to 7 percent over the same period, compared with the national unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, which was unchanged. The department says the number of payroll jobs in June were up slightly to about 2.4 million in Colorado.



Municipalities across Colorado with wastewater treatment facilities are getting $14.7 million in state grants to help pay for improvements to comply with new nutrient standards. The new standards adopted last year by the state’s Water Quality Control Commission are aimed at keep nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen out of state waters. About 40 of the state’s 400 municipal wastewater systems must comply with new nutrient limits. Lawmakers this year passed a bill establishing the grant program. While it’s a one-time source of funds, Governor John Hickenlooper said last week he hopes the state can continue to help. Twenty-one municipal wastewater and sanitation districts are getting the grants. The Colorado Municipal League called it a great start, but remains concerned about the long-term costs of compliance to local ratepayers.



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