Montezuma Creek Fire burns 8 acres

Thursday, June 7, 2018 2:59 PM
An air tanker drops a load of slurry Tuesday on the Montezuma Creek fire south of Pagosa Springs. The fire and several smaller blazes burned this week on Southern Ute Indian Tribal lands.

The Montezuma Creek Fire burning on Southern Ute Indian Reservation has grown to 8 acres on tribal lands and is 80 percent contained. The smaller Kerns Canyon fire has burned 2 acres and is 100-percent contained. Firefighters hoped to have the blaze fully contained by Thursday night.

A lightning storm on Monday started a series of fires on the southeastern edge of the reservation, south of Pagosa Springs. On Tuesday afternoon, firefighters from several agencies responded to reports of smoke and found multiple fires. At 6 p.m. that day, the Durango Interagency Incident Management Team assumed management of the fires, which they are calling the Montezuma Creek incident.

The primary fire is located on a steep slope and a hotshot crew has been ordered to assist the other crews working on the fire. The Kerns Canyon fire burned a few acres was contained on Wednesday, according to a press release from the management team.

A total of 13 other small fires were located and are all 100 percent contained at less than one-tenth of an acre each. There were no accidents or injuries reported as crews fought the fires. About 140 people worked on the fires, including one hotshot crew, three hand crews, eight engines, two water tenders, and one bulldozer. On Wednesday, crews focused on constructing fire lines and cooling hot spots on the remaining fires. Continued warm and dry conditions are forecast across the region, and Stage 2 fire restrictions remain in place in Southwest Colorado, including tribal lands.

Local residents are encouraged to prepare their homes and properties for wildfire and to be registered for emergency notifications.