Three wildfires continue to burn in Montezuma and Dolores counties, but one has been fully contained contained.
Patrick Seekins, a fire management officer for the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service, gave an update on the fires, which officials say were started by lightning.
Yellow Jacket fire containedA fire on BLM land west of Road 19 near Pleasant View has been 100 percent contained, Seekins said. The fire burned about five acres in the Yellow Jacket canyon area and went near some private property. A containment line surrounds the fire. It continues to smolder but is expected to be out in the coming days. There were no injuries or property damage.
412 Fire grows to 80 acresThe 412 Fire south of Rico is at 80 acres, up five acres from Friday. The fire is burning at an elevation of 10,100 feet near the upper reaches of Ryman and Salt Creeks. It is being closely monitored by firefighters on the ground, but has been allowed to burn in order to reduce accumulated deadfall and forest debris.
“It is not moving that much and is allowed to burn within a predefined area,” he said.
Firefighters have prevented the fire from going beyond the Divide Road and into the adjacent Hermosa Creek drainage. Ten firefighters are tending to the low-intensity fire, down from 65 last week.
The 412 Fire is burning in rough, steep terrain. It began as a two-acre fire after it was reported by a hiker on June 23 and was believed to have been started by lightning. The fire is named after its incident number, which was relayed to air support. A helicopter dropped two loads of water near a camper that was above the fire in its early days. There have been no injuries or property damage.
The fire closed several roads and trails, but the Scotch Creek road has been reopened.
Trail closures are: Portions of the Highline Colorado Trail between its intersections with the Clear Creek Trail No. 547 and Hotel Draw Road No. 550;
Big Bend Trail No. 519; Salt Creek Trail No. 733; Corral Trail No. 521; Ryman Creek Trail 734/735; and Salt Creek Trail No. 559 in the Hermosa Creek Wilderness.
Road closures are: Roaring Fork Road No. 435, Divide Road No. 564.
East Rim Fire growsOn Wednesday, the BLM Southwest Colorado Fire and Aviation Management unit and a Type III Incident Command Team were working to suppress the 300-acre East Rim Fire, which is burning near a steep canyon on Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands northeast of Dove Creek, Colorado.
Dry fuels, hot weather and overstocked forests have fueled the fire. Burning in ponderosa pine and Gambel oak, it has grown rapidly in the past few days – from 20 acres on July 2, to 82 acres on July 3, to 300 acres on July 5.
Ninety firefighters have been assigned to the East Rim Fire, and its containment level has not been determined. A helicopter from Northern Colorado Interagency Helitack is assisting in the firefight.
“We feel like we have a good handle on it and have a good plan in place,” Seekins said. “It is a full-suppression fire, and we are utilizing road systems on top for containment.”
This fire is being suppressed to ensure firefighters’ safety while protecting cultural resources and power lines in the area. Because of the rugged terrain and lack of containment, smoke maybe visible for several days.
It is burning near the Dolores River Canyon south of the Dolores River Pyramid, west of Forest Service Road 504.T and 220, north of Mountain Sheep Point and east of the Dolores River.
Currently, these roads are open, but anyone planning on traveling in the area are advised to be prepared for closures.
Seekins estimated that 30-40 percent of the fire is on BLM lands in the steep, upper canyon of the Dolores River, and the rest is in on the rim on Forest Service lands. Because of hazardous, high-risk terrain, firefighters are avoiding the canyon portion of the fire and focusing on the rim.
So called rollouts – burning vegetation that rolls down the canyon – have occurred. The canyon portion of the fire is an estimated 1,000-1,500 feet above the Dolores River. Burnout operations have been conducted to control the fire within a perimeter.
Some burnout operations have been used to control the fire within containment lines, such as roads. Burnout tactics use fire to fight fire by burning areas in the fire’s path to stop or slow it down by reducing available fuels.
“It is a way to fight the fire on our terms, and removes fuels between us and the fire,” Seekins said.
Burnouts are also being used to prevent the fire in the canyon from moving up and onto to the rim.
“It is moderate fire behavior staying mostly on the ground moving east to southeast,” Seekins said. “It is in a remote area that does not see a lot of public.”