The Doe Canyon Fire continues to grow, and has crossed a northeastern control line, fire officials said.
By Wednesday, the fire grew to 2,560 acres, up from 1,650 acres Sunday.
Containment has expanded to 85%, and the fire was burning at low intensity, officials say. With improved containment, firefighting staff was reduced from 61 to 42, and the management level dropped from a Type 3 incident command team to a less robust Type 4 team. Estimated containment is July 15.
A forest closure area has been expanded to cover the approximate area of the current fire footprint. Smaller roads near the fire are closed, but Forest Service Roads 504 and 514 along the edge of the burn remain open.
The fire is burning within an area contained by roads, dozer lines and previous burn areas, said public information officer Kathy Russell.
Earlier this week, crews strengthened fire lines by clearing oak brush along containment roads and control lines using an industrial mower. Back-burning operations were being conducted to reduce fuels along the perimeter.
“At this point, the fire is filling in unburned islands within the control lines,” Russell said. “It is low intensity, creeping on the ground and not up in the trees.”
Crews have prevented it from entering Doe Canyon and a timber sale area to the west.
The acreage increase is partly the result of more accurate mapping, she said.
A spot fire last week pushed the fire northeast and past original containment lines. The control line was adjusted from Road 504 to Road 504F1 and abuts a previous burn area.
A logging operation to the west of the fire has not been interrupted, Russell said.
The fire’s intensity was low because trees and shrubs are still high in moisture after the wet spring and winter snows. The fire is improving forest health by reducing underbrush.
“We’re fortunate that conditions are right this year so that we can allow fire to play its natural role in the ecosystem,” says Incident Commander Brad Pietruszka.
Smoke from the Doe Canyon Fire will continue to be visible from Dove Creek, U.S. Highway 491 and other vantage points in the area. At night, smoke might settle in valleys to the south along the Dolores River Canyon near Bradfield Bridge.
“Firefighters will now help return control features to their pre-fire condition,” Lorena Williams said Wednesday in a news release. In places where fire lines were dug down to mineral soil, fire crews will now pull organic matter and branches back to cover the bare earth and encourage regrowth. In steep areas, they will build water bars to prevent erosion.”
For more information on closures, visit www.inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/6398/49368.