A wildfire along the Western Slope in Colorado south of Rangely in the Piceance Basin prompted Denver-based Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. to close 500 conventional natural gas wells in Rio Blanco County and evacuate an eight-worker plant. The shutdown was expected to continue at least through Friday, a Colorado-based Encana spokesperson told NGI.

The overall gas production totals impacted are relatively small (12.5 MMcf/d), according to the spokesperson, who said Encana officials were hoping to regain access later on Friday to assess when operations might resume. All the workers were safely evacuated from the Dragon Trail plant, he said.

Firefighters battling the Wild Rose fire said the fire spread to 850 acres on Thursday, but they were hoping to have containment perhaps by late Friday, the Encana spokesperson said. Volunteer fire personnel are providing protection to the Encana natural gas infrastructure, according to a report from the local office of the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

So far, there have been no injuries or damage to structures, BLM reported, but it said rugged terrain and remote access had been hampering responders, along with high winds and thick smoke.

With the series of wildfires plaguing the state in the past week, the Wild Rose fire is the first to impact oil/gas operations, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

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