The Burro Fire grew an estimated 50 acres on Tuesday, but remained at 40 percent containment, firefighters said.
Most of the growth occurred near the junction between the Bear Creek and Little Bear Creek trails, public information officer Andy Lyon said. The fire was more active Tuesday than it was over the weekend, which he blamed on a brief alignment of higher temperatures, drier fuel and wind blowing behind the flames as they moved uphill. The fire remained 40 percent contained as hand and chipper crews continued to secure the fire lines on its western perimeter.
Lyon said he could only give a rough estimate on how much the fire grew Tuesday, because no infrared mapping flights were conducted that day. He said an infrared flight was planned for Wednesday night, which should allow for more accuracy. The fire is estimated to cover 3,829 acres.
He expected more fire activity Wednesday afternoon as temperatures in the Bear Creek Trail region climbed into the 70s.
“Yesterday it got a little active in one area and burned a few trees and then stopped,” he said. “We might see that again today.”
The small Type 3 crew of firefighters still assigned to the Burro are focusing on “tidying up” the fire lines, Lyon said, removing fuel sources and improving roads near the south and northwest divisions, rather than putting out the existing flames. Since the June 16 and 17 rains slowed the fire’s spread, crews have largely relied on natural containment, helped by the rocky, high-elevation terrain on the fire’s northeast side.
But if the fire does flare up again, Lyon said hand crews are making sure the fire lines will be ready for firefighters to use for a fresh attack on the flames.
The estimated cost of the fire has grown to $2.6 million, up from $2.5 million on Monday. About 57 personnel were working on it as of Wednesday morning, but Lyon said he expected that number to continue to fall. Members of the Interagency Emergency Management Team that responded to the fire commit to 14 days at each wildfire, and they reached the 14-day mark on Monday. But Lyon said it’s not unusual for fire crews to stay longer than 14 days if needed. He expected some crews to remain at the Burro Fire for at least another week.
As of Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service predicted sunny, warm weather for the San Juan Mountains through Saturday, with no precipitation in the forecast. Thursday’s forecast called for sunny weather with a high of 80 degrees and a southwest wind reaching up to 15 mph.
The San Juan National 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. Bureau of Land Management 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).