The U.S. National Forest Service has barred anyone but firefighters from accessing dozens of miles of roads and trails in Dolores County near a 10-acre forest fire burning in Doe Canyon, according to social media.
Forest officials say a lightening strike started the fire Thursday in a ponderosa pine forest at about 7,800 feet in southeast Dolores County. Fire managers alerted the public to the incident Friday and said they may continue to battle the blaze throughout the weekend and into next week.
The San Juan National Forest Dolores Ranger District issued an order dated Friday, shared on the U.S. Forest Service-San Juan National Forest Facebook page, barring the public from all national forest system lands east of County Road South, also known as Forest Service Road 504, between the north and south entrances to County Road 20.
The public may not access Forest Service Roads 506, 506A, 506B, 506C, 506E, 506G, 506M, 506K1 and 215 in Dolores County, according to the order. Forest Service Road 504 is scheduled to stay accessible, officials wrote.
The order may remain in effect until July 8, but officials have the authority to rescind it at any time the area is deemed safe.
Forest Service officials did not immediately respond Saturday morning to calls for updates about the fire.
About two dozen firefighters and three fire engines are managing the naturally caused fire by constructing hardlines and preparing for future burnout operations, according to a news release published Friday. Fire managers are working to contain the fire within an area surrounded by forest roads, permitting the flames “to play its natural role in the ponderosa pine ecosystem to make the forest more resilient to future fire, insects or disease,” officials said in a press release.
The press release continues to say: “‘Live fuels are still green and holding moisture, which will slow the fire’s spread,’ said Dolores District Fire Management Officer Patrick Seekins. “Only pine needles and oak litter are burning right now, resulting in a low-intensity surface fire. This is a very different situation than what we experienced during the 2018 fire season under extreme drought conditions.”
Beyond issued closures, travel should not be impacted by firefighting operations, the Forest Service said in its release published before the emergency closure order. Smoke may be visible from Dove Creek, State Highway 491 and surrounding forest roads, according to the Forest Service. The haze may descend at night into Dolores River Canyon near Bradfield Bridge, officials said.