Fire forces early closure at Wetherill Mesa in Mesa Verde National Park

Wednesday, July 18, 2018 5:32 PM
Long House, the second-largest cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde National Park.

Wetherill Mesa, on the west side of Mesa Verde National Park, closed early Wednesday after a small wildfire.

Cristy Brown, the park’s public information officer, said in a news release Wednesday afternoon that a lightning strike had sparked the fire, dubbed the Rock Springs Fire. It had reportedly spread over about 1 acre on the mesa by 4:30 p.m. Brown said Mesa Verde’s fire engine and helitack personnel were battling the fire, and visitors to the area were being evacuated.

Brown said she expected the fire to be contained by the end of the day, but added that she would post updates about possible closures on the Mesa Verde National Park Facebook page.

Chapin Mesa, which contains the main group of Ancestral Pueblo ruins, was unaffected by the fire, according to the release.

Wetherill Mesa Road is normally open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily during the summer.