Ward Gulch Fire grows to 682 acres near Rifle Gap State Park in Garfield County

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. - The Ward Gulch Fire has grown to 682 acres north of Rifle Gap State Park in Garfield County, authorities said Saturday.

Authorities say they have a containment line around 15 percent of the fire.

An evacuation order is in place for residents north of Rifle Gap along Highway 325.  The evacuation center is at the Garfield County Fairgrounds. Access to the center is off of 14th Street. All residents north of the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery were ordered to evacuate through the Triangle Park area.

No structures were immediately threatened on Saturday, officials said.

The fire is being fought by four 20-person hand crews, a number of engines, a heavy helicopter, a medium helicopter, two single-engine air tankers and a reconnaissance plane. Heavy air tanker support will also be used on Saturday.

Citizens are encouraged to avoid the area for personal safety as well as for the safety of the firefighters and fire resources. Highway 325 has been closed in both directions 7 miles north of Rifle, due to wildfire in the area with no estimated time of opening. 

The fire was initially reported at 11:30 a.m. Friday when it was a  5-acre grass fire.