Crews from multiple agencies including the Dove Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service worked Tuesday to contain a brush fire west of Cahone.
Ground and air crews responded Monday night with support as the fire burned near the end of County Road N a few miles west of U.S. Highway 491 in Dolores County.
A helicopter and two single-engine air tankers called in by Durango Dispatch dropped retardant on the fire on Monday evening, according to Grant Allen of the Dove Creek Fire Department.
About 50 firefighters were on the ground Monday night, including crews from Pleasant View, Dove Creek, Egnar and the Forest Service, Allen said. About a dozen fire engines and several tankers were deployed.
Allen estimated on Monday night that the fire was burning in 80 acres of brush. However, after the smoke cleared on Tuesday morning, a GPS estimate on the ground put the fire’s footprint at 21 acres, said Patrick Seekins, fire management officer of the Dolores Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest.
Seekins estimated that ground crews would finish fire lines and fully contain the fire Tuesday afternoon.
He credited a heavy and fast response for the crews’ success. “We had a lot of aviation,” Seekins said.
No structures were burned, Allen said, and the nearest home and outbuilding were about a half mile away.
A Colorado multi-mission aircraft was expected to conduct a flyover on Tuesday morning to map the fire, using a Pilatus PC-12 airplane outfitted with infrared and color sensors and operated by the state Division of Fire Prevention and Control. On Tuesday, fire officials conducted a GPS estimate of the fire instead.
Firefighters were called to the scene about 5 p.m. Monday. The fire began in piñon-juniper brush around Alkali Draw, then quickly spread north-northeast, fed by south-southwest winds, said Seekins.
The fire was blamed on a lightning strike. Allen reported that Dove Creek firefighters extinguished a “little smoker” on Sunday after a strike, but that a flyover in the afternoon failed to find evidence of another fire.
The National Weather Service forecasts continued dry, hot weather through Monday, with daytime high temperatures in the upper 80s and overnight lows in the lower 50s.