Updates given on area fires


VALLEY — Friday concluded with the lightning-sparked Park Creek Fire being 95 percent contained, no new growth on any of the fires burning in the Rio Grande National Forest and smoke visible in the San Luis Valley from the 416 Fire north of Durango, which had burned more than 1,100 acres by Friday night, and the Ute Park Fire in northern New Mexico, which was estimated at 16,500 acres and 0-percent contained on Friday night.

Two new fires were reported on the Rio Grande National Forest on Thursday. The South Fork Fire (Cat Creek) was contained Thursday night at 1/10 acre. The fire was located in the South Fork of Cat Creek approximately 15 miles southwest of Monte Vista.

The Continental Reservoir Fire was at 12 acres on Friday morning with no update on containment. One engine (and crew), one initial attack module (four people), the Craig Hotshots (20 people) were “spiked out” on the Continental Reservoir Fire Thursday night (i.e., camped at the fire). One Type 1 helicopter (heavy) is assigned to the fire and is positioned at Mineral County Airport, according to Mike Blakeman, public affairs specialist with Rio Grande National Forest. There is a closure in place for Continental Reservoir extending out 100 feet from the water edge, and the road leading up to Continental Reservoir (FSR 513.1A)

“Weather is predicting moisture this weekend, which will provide some temporary relief,” Blakeman stated. “The moisture levels in our large fuels – 1000 and 10,000 hour fuels are extremely dry. Moisture levels in our duff (organic matter on the ground, such as conifer needles) are low in most areas. What this means is a day or two of wet weather helps, but it doesn’t take long to dry back out. Lightning in these storms can start fires that just smolder and are hard to detect until it dries out enough for them to kick up. In other words, we may see fires pop up in the middle of next week if the weekend storm produces lightning.

“The green is helping to keep fires manageable at the moment. If we continue to get pulses of moisture, everything may stay green. In other words, the weather will have a big impact on the potential for large wildland fires this June.”

Please find fire updates on the Rio Grande National Forest Facebook page at U.S. Forest Service – Rio Grande National Forest (@USFSRGNF).

Regarding the Durango-area fire, called the 416 Fire, La Plata County Manager Joanne Spina proclaimed a state of local disaster in the unincorporated areas of La Plata County. About 825 homes were under mandatory evacuation orders as a result of the fire which began Friday morning approximately 10 miles north of Durango on the west side of U.S. Highway 550 north. The fire was growing rapidly, heading northwest and had reached approximately 100 acres in size by noon and 1,100 acres by 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 1.

Please follow @LaPlataCounty on Facebook or @LaPlataCountyCO on Twitter for updates.

In conjunction with the Ute Park Fire in northern New Mexico, as of 9:15 p.m. Friday evening, June 1, approximately 14 outbuildings had burned on the Philmont Scout Ranch, which had been evacuated, and 296 structures were threatened in the community of Cimarron, which remains under a mandatory evacuation order. Ute Park lies between Eagle Nest and Cimarron, southeast of Red River.

The Ute Park Fire is burning on private land off of Highway 64 in Ute Park, NM. The communities of Ute Park and the Village of Cimarron are under mandatory evacuation orders. Red Cross Evacuation Centers were set up at the Eagle Nest Senior Center and Raton Convention Center. For more information see https://nmfireinfo.com