PONCHA PASS — A fire started by lightning on June 6 is being managed by the Rio Grande National Forest in a manner that allows it to play its natural role in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness.
The 10-acre Ox Cart Fire is burning in aspen, Douglas-fir and bristlecone pine approximately six miles southeast of Poncha Pass.
“Natural fire plays a vital role in creating a diverse pattern of vegetation on the landscape,” said Saguache District Ranger Jim Pitts. “This fire is burning in a forest type that has adapted with periodic wildland fires.”
The fire is currently not threatening private land, structures or other important resources.
“We have put together a fire management plan that allows this fire to burn naturally as long as it stays within predetermined boundaries,” said Assistant Fire Management Officer Lary Floyd. “If the fire reaches one of these ‘trigger points,’ we will suppress part or all of the fire to minimize any threats to private property or other important resources.”
The Ox Cart Fire is clearly visible from U.S. Highway 285 in the northern part of the San Luis Valley. Moderate fire activity is expected over the next few days with occasional single tree torching possible. Drift smoke may be visible in Salida, Poncha Springs, Howard and other communities along U.S. Highway 50.
Temporary closures include Forest Service Roads 980 and 982 from North Decker Creek southeast to Nieland Creek.
The Ox Cart Fire is expected to continue to burn until the monsoon season arrives. Fire updates will be posted on the Rio Grande National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/riogrande. For more information contact the Saguache Ranger District at 719-655-2547.
The public is reminded that conditions are dry and fire danger is very high. Individuals are requested to report smoke on public lands to Pueblo Dispatch at 719-553-1600 or by calling 911.