The Burro Fire east of Dolores grew 14 acres over the weekend, and crews continued to check containment lines on its northwestern and southern sides.
Infrared mapping flights on Saturday and Sunday nights showed that the Burro Fire grew to 3,779 acres since Friday. Most of the fire’s growth occurred along the western perimeter around Gold Run Trail, near the junction of Little Bear and Bear Creek trails, according to the flight log.
The fire’s containment was decreased to 40 percent on Saturday, from 53 percent, after crews walked the fire lines and found that they weren’t as cold or complete as estimates by air had suggested.
The lowered containment estimate was no reason for concern, said public information officer Andy Lyon, because much of the fire is at high elevation, above 10,000 feet, and the blaze ran into green grass, aspen groves and rock, which have formed natural barriers.
“We don’t think that this fire is going to go anywhere at higher elevation,” Lyon said. “It’s not dead yet, but it seems to be on life support.”
However, dangerous weather conditions exist. A drying trend continues, and high temperatures in the middle to upper 80s and daytime humidity of 10-13 percent were forecast through Wednesday. Critical fire conditions were expected to return by the end of the week, Lyon said.
On Monday, crews maintained lookout posts while other hand crews received some low-angle rescue training during a lull in their work schedule. Hand and chipper crews continued to remove hazardous fuels and reinforce fire lines in the northwest and southwest areas of the fire.
On Sunday, Lyon reported that some individual dead trees torched, but the smoke that was visible in the canyon was attributed mainly to smoldering fires on the ground. The ground fire had not climbed into trees, he said.
Fellers, skidders and chippers continued this weekend to reinforce control lines and remove hazardous fuels along the completed the bulldozed line in Division J, on the northwest side of the fire. Crews also worked to improve fire lines in Division N, on the southern end of the fire, near Windy Gap. The heavy-equipment operators had finished most of the work and departed by Monday, Lyon said.
About 66 personnel were assigned to the fire as of Monday. The cost of fighting the fire was raised to $2.5 million, up from $2.35 million on Saturday.
Division R, on the fire’s northeast side, remained unstaffed. The Burro Fire is bordered on the east by a high-elevation wilderness, and because some areas are above timberline, the fire team does not consider the area to be a threat, fire officials said. Crews from the 416 Fire were managing that area from the western flank of the 416 Fire, less than 10 miles away.
The San Juan National Forest reopened to the public on Thursday, rescinding the Stage 3 closure order that has been in place since June 12. Anglers returned this weekend to the forest to fish in the Dolores River.
The forest has reopened most trails and roads including the shoreline of McPhee and House Creek campgrounds and the House Creek Road and boat ramp.
Some areas near the Burro and 416 fires remain closed to public entry, including the segments of the Colorado Trail from Molas Pass to the Junction Creek terminus. The BLM lands and the rest of the forest will remain under Stage 2 fire restrictions.
Closed trails include the Bear Creek, Gold Run, Sharkstooth, Ryman Creek, Salt Creek, Rough Canyon, Morrison, Rio Lado, Grindstone Loop, portions of Aspen Loop Trail, and the Colorado Trail, south from Molas Pass to the Junction Creek Trailhead.
Closed roads include Hillside Drive (FR 436), Roaring Fork (FR 435), Scotch Creek (FR 550), Big Pole Springs Road (FR 401), Little Pole Springs Road (FR 402), Spruce Mill Road (FR 350), Dillons Cabin Road (FR 351), Turkey Creek Road (FR 352), Rock Springs Road (FR 556) and the West Mancos Road (FR 561).
The Burro and 416 fires, previously managed by a Rocky Mountain Incident Management Type 1 team, transitioned to new fire teams last week.
The Burro Fire transitioned to a downsized Type 3 team under the jurisdiction of the San Juan National Forest at 6 a.m. Thursday.
The 416 Fire hit its 14-day limit for working a fire on Thursday, and is now under a Type 1 National Incident Management Organization team. The NIMO team, from Portland, Oregon. A NIMO team is structured to manage long-duration fires, ideal for managing fire in the remote country, such as the western side of the 416 Fire.
As of Monday, the 416 Fire covered 34,962 acres was 37 percent contained. The 416 Fire appeared to ramp up, growing by nearly 600 acres in 24 hours, according to an estimate released Monday.