More than 100 firefighters are fighting four fires burning Tuesday on the Southern Ute Reservation, which they believe was started by a lightning storm on Monday afternoon.
The largest, the Montezuma Creek fire, has burned between five to 10 acres, while three other fires are burning less than one acre. They have been named the Kerns, Madrid and Round Meadow fires.
Four fire engines, a heavy air tanker, a single-engine air tanker and a hand crew were working on the blazes on Tuesday, according to the Durango Interagency Incident Management Team.
Another hand crew of 20 firefighters, three more engines and a water tender also are on their way, said Steve Orr, a public information officer for the fire. That will bring another 31 to 35 personnel to the fires, and they should be arriving this afternoon or Wednesday morning.
While the heat and lack of moisture isn't helping firefighters, afternoon winds on Tuesday have been fairly gentle, "which is encouraging," Orr said.
"Our focus is on containing the existing fires and responding rapidly to new fires," Incident Commander Rich Gustafson said in a press release Tuesday morning.
The fire is in Archuleta County south of Pagosa Springs in an area known as Archuleta Mesa, said Lindsey Box, a spokeswoman for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. The fires are burning close to the southeastern boundary of the reservation.
The June 3 lighting storm moved through the area with about 200 lightning strikes hitting the eastern side of the reservation, according to the press release. Several calls reported smoke in the area after the storm. Crews and personnel are coming from the tribe, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and Boulder County, Orr said.
Continued warm and dry weather is in the forecast through this weekend.
While this fire apparently was caused by lightning, Orr reminded residents that Stage 2 fire restrictions are in place across La Plata and Montezuma counties and federal and tribal lands, with no campfires or any open burns permitted.