Forest Service responds to Burro Fire northeast of Dolores

Saturday, June 9, 2018 1:21 PM
Crews are fighting the Burro Fire, about 23 miles northeast of Dolores, Colorado. The fire, photographed from just east of Cortez, appears as the smoke plume left of the 416 Fire.
Crews are on scene to fight the Burro Fire, about 23 miles northeast of Dolores, Colorado.
The Burro Fire, about 23 miles northeast of Dolores, Colorado, is south of the Bear Creek trailhead, at mile market 34.
The Burro Fire, left, and the 416 Fire, right, as seen from the intersection of Colorado Highways 145 and 184 outside Dolores, Colorado.

The U.S. Forest Service and several local fire departments responded about 4 p.m. Friday to a wildfire near the Bear Creek trailhead off Colorado Highway 145.

Steve Orr, a public information officer for the San Juan National Forest, said the fire scorched 3-5 acres by 5 p.m. By 6:30 p.m., the fire grew to 40 acres, according to Dolores District Ranger Derek Padilla, who was at the scene.

Campers were being evacuated, but no structures or private land were threatened. The fire was burning on public land near Burro Mountain in the Dolores Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest. Containment is zero percent.

Dubbed the Burro Fire by responders, the fire was burning in spruce and fir about 5 miles up the Bear Creek trail on a northeast-facing slope. It was rapidly moving downslope and southward into Bear Creek drainage, Padilla said.

The Roaring Fork, Gold Run and Bear Creek trails, as well as Forest Road 435 and Hillside Road (FS 436) have been closed, Padilla said.

In addition to U.S. Forest Service firefighters, Padilla said firefighters from Cortez, Dolores, Rico and the Bureau of Land Management responded to the fire. Patrick Seekins, Forest Service fire management officer, was assigned as the incident commander.

Padilla told a Journal reporter at the scene that 30 to 40 firefighters were involved with the blaze, including seven or eight smokejumpers, two helicopters and two fire engines.

A San Juan National Forest press release at 8 p.m. said that no resources were diverted from the 416 Fire north of Durango, 13 miles away.

"The resources were available from local and pre-positioned out-of-the-area resources," the press release from Cam Hooley said. Hooley added that fire retardant has been ordered.

Orr said he didn't expect the fire, near Colorado 145 mile marker 34, would cause major road closures or ruin anyone's travel plans.

"It's in a fairly remote area," he said.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but Padilla said the area had seen some lightning earlier in the week. The fire was reported by a medical helicopter.

Orr said he wanted to remind Montezuma and Dolores County residents to observe the fire ban across Southwest Colorado. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the entire region over the weekend, and Stage 2 fire restrictions are in effect throughout the San Juan National Forest.