Hot, dry days are expected in western Colorado this week, resulting in a red flag warning beginning at noon Wednesday.
The warning came two days after a brush fire Sunday near the Montezuma County landfill burned five to 10 acres. The blaze was 100 percent contained by 7 p.m., officials said, and no homes or structures were affected.
The National Weather Service issued the warning for noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday, and a fire weather watch for Thursday afternoon and evening for an area that includes the southwestern corner of Colorado, including Cortez and Mancos and areas south of Durango.
The forecast for the red flag areas calls for temperatures in the middle to high 80s with low humidity and winds of 15 to 25 mph and gusts up to 40 mph. The winds should lessen on Thursday, when the watch is in effect.
A red flag warning means that conditions are ripe for extreme fire behavior, including rapid growth if a fire starts.
The cause of Sunday’s fire is being investigated, and might have started from a resident cutting rebar, according to Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin.
“It was fortunate the winds were not blowing towards the landfill,” he said. “The response was really excellent, with multiple agencies cooperating.”
The road to the landfill was temporarily closed Sunday. There were no injuries and no property damage except for a few burned fence posts, said Cortez Assistant Fire Chief Shawn Bittle said.
Several fire crews responded at 4:30 p.m., including those from Cortez, Ute Mountain, Dolores, Lewis-Arriola, BLM and U.S. Forest Service. The landfill staff provided equipment and staff to contain the blaze, as did the sheriff’s office, and county Emergency Management department. The fire was on private, county and BLM land.
Forest Service firefighters measured the area affected at about 40 acres, Bittle said.
Sue McMillin of the Durango Herald and Jim Mimiaga of The (Cortez) Journal contributed to this story.