Smoldering Burro Fire reaches 80 percent containment; more rain expected

Thursday, July 12, 2018 5:02 PM
The Dolores Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest received an anonymous gift thanking firefighters for their work on the Burro Fire. The painting will be displayed in the Dolores Public Lands Office.

Thanks to a week of rain, the Burro Fire is down to a smolder and is 80 percent contained, fire officials said Thursday.

The fire is not expected to grow from its current 4,593 acres, and there is no active fire behavior other than smoldering and smoking within the burn perimeter, said Pat Seekins, San Juan National Forest fire manager.

“We will continue to monitor the fire, and it is getting closer to 100 percent contained,” he said.

The fire, in Bear Creek Canyon 14 miles south of Rico, received 2 inches of rain in the past week, and more is expected. Full containment is expected to follow the rain, though the fire likely will smolder for a month.

Closures have been lifted for some roads and trails near the Burro Fire. They include the Colorado, Ryman Creek, Salt Creek and Sharkstooth trails and the Roaring Fork, Divide, Scotch Creek roads. Forest Road 350, which goes to the Sharkstooth trailhead, also is open.

Roads and trails that remain closed include Hillside Drive, Bear Creek Trail, Rough Canyon Trail, and Gold Run Trail, as well as Forest Road 561 where it goes near the fire perimeter.

On Friday, the Bureau of Land Management will rescind Stage 2 fire restrictions. Stage 1 fire restrictions, which prohibit building fires outside of a permanent fire grate or smoking near flammable materials, are still in effect. The San Juan National Forest will lift all fire restrictions.

A Type 4 team of 11 firefighters is managing the fire, down from 21. Mop-up duties are being handled by the Abajo Fire Module, which is monitoring the fire, removing burned standing trees that pose a public hazard, and completing rehabilitation work.

The bulldozed containment line on the fire’s southwest perimeter will be rehabilitated to a more natural state and prepped for vegetation growth. Logs will be placed at a 45-degree angle along fire lines in steep areas to prevent erosion.

An emergency response team will assess how to mitigate fire impacts. It will conduct a flyover and outline a plan for controlling erosion, removing hazardous trees and reseeding areas.

Seekins said flooding and erosion near the Burro Fire has not been a problem. The fire’s severity was low to moderate, with few areas of intense burns, he said.

No structures were lost, no major injuries were reported, and adequate resources were available. The fire’s cause is under investigation.

The cost of fighting the fire was estimated at more than $3 million.