The Burro Fire had minimal growth overnight and continued to burn calmly on Thursday, four days after the weekend’s steady rain.
“The rains really cooled it down,” said John Bearer, public information officer. “It is mostly an isolated interior fire,”
The fire grew by 6 acres overnight with a total footprint of 3,747 acres in the Bear Creek canyon area 14 miles south of Rico. Growth occurred toward the east, according to an infrared flight conducted at 1:30 a.m. Intense heat was also detected on the southeast edge of the fire.
Fire management switched from a Type 1 team to a smaller Type 3 team on Thursday morning. Personnel on the fire dropped from around 150 to 100 people, Bearer said.
Containment remained at 53 percent by Thursday evening. Containment lines are forming a bowl along the southwestern edge of the fire to prevent it from moving out of Bear Canyon and down the canyon toward Colorado Highway 145 and the Dolores River.
Dry, warm weather is expected to intensify fire behavior in the coming days. Critical fire behavior will begin today as high pressure firmly establishes itself over the Southwest. Winds are expected to remain moderate Thursday, but could become gusty on Friday.
“We are figuring that it could come back to life, and we are ready to jump on it if it does,” Bearer said.
Forest litter was still moist Thursday, causing more of a smoldering fire behavior, added public information officer Andy Lyon. But as it dries out, there is some potential for the fire to make a moderate run in timbered forest again, especially if winds pick up and throw embers ahead.
“If it gets into the mixed conifer and goes from tree to tree, there will be visible smoke again, but not a big plume,” Lyon said. “Our spotters are in place, and we have fire lines ready.”
Firefighting efforts continued to be more indirect, with containment lines being created beyond the active fire line.
A direct fight is not considered safe or effective, because the fire is burning mostly in steep, heavily timbered slopes with a lot of deadfall.
“It is very dangerous to get very close. It would be very easy to get trapped,” Bearer said.
Firefighters face other hazards including falling trees and “stump holes” – burning roots that leave a hole concealed by a cover of ash.
A type of logging machinery called a dangle-head processor is working to salvage timber from a bulldozed fire break for later sales. The unit grabs a tree, cuts it from its base, strips the branches, the cuts the log it into predetermined lengths. A skidder then drags the logs out to a log deck.
The cost of the Burro Fire is estimated at more than $2 million.