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A plane drops slurry on the Lowline fire
Looking west from Ohio Creek Road a plane drops retardant as smoke billows and flames rise from the Lowline fire northwest of Gunnison, Colorado, about 4 p.m. on July 26, 2023. The fire is believed to have been started by lightning the morning of July 26 and quickly grew to about 700 acres. (Don Emmert, Special to The Colorado Sun)

A lightning-sparked wildfire burning near Gunnison in western Colorado grew overnight, now covering more than 680 acres, the U.S. Forest Service said Thursday morning.

The Lowline fire ignited Wednesday morning along a ridge at 9,400 feet about 14 miles northwest of Gunnison and prompted evacuations for those living along County Road 818, the forest service said. Ten structures are threatened by the fire, but none have been reported damaged. 

Smoke billowing from a forest fire
Flames from the Lowline fire quickly chewed up almost 700 acres of forest northwest of Gunnison on July 26, 2023. Lightning is believed to have started the fire early that morning. (Don Emmert, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Three helicopters and 11 air tankers dropped buckets of water on the flames to help control the fire that is chewing through spruce and aspen in forests with heavy dead and downed trees, authorities said. State, federal and local firefighters are also helping fight the fire from the ground and more resources are en route.

As of 10 a.m. Thursday, the fire was reported at 0% contained, the Forest Service said. The fire is burning in a part of Gunnison County that is under “abnormally dry” conditions, per the latest map released by the U.S. Drought Monitor.   

To the east, firefighters worked Thursday to mop up a fire in Teller County near the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. The fire was 100% contained Wednesday, but smoke could be visible over the next few days, officials said.

Wildfire tracker

Olivia Prentzel is a general assignment writer based in Colorado Springs for The Colorado Sun, covering breaking news, wildfires and all things interesting impacting Coloradans. Before joining The Sun, Olivia covered criminal justice for The Colorado Springs Gazette. She’s also worked at newspapers in New Orleans and New Jersey, where she grew up. After graduating college, she lived in a tiny, rural town in southern Madagascar for three years as a Peace Corps volunteer. When not writing, Olivia enjoys backpacking and climbing Colorado’s tallest peaks.