Containment crews stay ahead of creeping Burro Fire

Thursday, July 5, 2018 3:12 PM
Burro Fire crews may get another big break from the weather on Friday. Forecasters say there is a chance of a wetting rain, substantial enough to dampen a smoldering fire. Above, firefighters on June 10.

Warm, dry weather and low fuel moisture continue to feed the Burro Fire, which has grown 141 acres since Monday.

An infrared mapping flight about 8:17 p.m. Tuesday showed the fire was at 4,578 acres. According to the pilot’s log, the flight revealed new growth in the northwest, along Bear Creek to the southwest near Burro Mountain, and toward Forest Service Road 436. Elsewhere, only isolated heat was detected, and cloud cover obscured the southern end of the fire.

The fire began June 8 in Bear Creek Canyon near the Gold Run Trail. It remains 40 percent contained.

Hand crews continued to reinforce control lines and remove hazardous fuels along the northeastern and southwestern sides and conduct back burns along the bulldozed line on the western side of the fire to stay ahead of the fire.

The eastern side of the fire, known as Division R, remained unstaffed. Natural barriers such as high elevation, rock and aspen separate the Burro Fire from the 416 Fire, less than 2 miles to the east. A burnout operation over the past few days has allowed 416 Fire crews to build a containment line along the southwest perimeter of the Fire. Officials say the 53,260-acre fire is 45 percent contained.

Forecasters predict that a wetting rain will begin Friday, with predictions calling between 0.1 and 0.25 inches of rain.

On Monday, firefighters working near Burro Mountain and Rough Canyon observed increased fire behavior because of shifting winds. Much of the activity occurred in unburned areas inside the perimeter, resulting in minor expansion of the fire’s footprint, which grew by 108 acres.

This week, two firefighting crews arrived to relieve two crews that are scheduled to return home when their 14-day assignment ends. On Tuesday, local federal fire manager Brad Pietruszka took over the incident command post. He is familiar with the San Juan National Forest and the methods that have managed the fire.

Experienced personnel will orient new crews for a few days. About 50 firefighters are working on the fire.

The Durango Herald contributed to this article.