The Burro Fire east of Dolores grew this weekend, and crews continued to check containment lines on its northwestern and southern sides.
An infrared mapping flight about 10:51 p.m. Saturday showed that the Burro Fire grew to 3,771 acres since the flight on Friday night. Most of the fire's growth occurred along the western perimeter near Gold Run Trail, near the junction of Little Bear and Bear Creek trails, according to the flight log.
The fire's containment was decreased to 40 percent containment, from 53 percent, after crews walked the containment lines and found that they weren't as cold or complete as estimates by air had suggested.
The lowered containment estimate was no reason for concern, said public information officer Andy Lyon, because much of the fire is at high elevation, above 10,000 feet, and the blaze has run into green grass, aspen groves and rock, which have formed natural barriers.
"We don't think that this fire is going to go anywhere at higher elevation," Lyon said. "It's not dead yet, but it seems to be on life support."
On Sunday, Lyon reported that some individual dead trees torched, but the smoke that was visible in the canyon was attributed mainly to smoldering fires on the ground. The ground fire had not climbed into trees, he said.
The area was under a red flag alert Sunday because of hot, dry and windy conditions. High temperatures on Monday are expected to reach into the upper 80s.
Fellers, skidders and chippers continued this weekend to reinforce control lines and remove hazardous fuels along the completed bulldozed line in Division J, on the northwest side of the fire. Crews also worked to improve fire lines in Division N, on the southern end of the fire, near Windy Gap.
About 67 personnel were assigned to the fire as of Sunday. The cost of fighting the fire was raised to $2.5 million, up from $2.35 million on Saturday.
Division R, on the fire's northeast side, remained unstaffed. The Burro Fire is bordered on the east by a high-elevation wilderness, and because some areas are above timberline, the fire team does not consider the area to be a threat, said Patrick Seekins, of the Dolores Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest. Crews from the 416 Fire were managing that area from the western flank of the 416 Fire, less than 10 miles away.
The San Juan National Forest reopened to the public on Thursday, rescinding the Stage 3 closure order that has been in place since June 12.
The lifted closure order reopened most trails and roads including the shoreline of McPhee and House Creek campgrounds and the House Creek Road and boat ramp. Anglers also returned this weekend to the forest to fish in the Dolores River.
Some areas near the Burro and 416 fires remain closed to public entry, including the segments of the Colorado Trail from Molas Pass to the Junction Creek terminus. The BLM lands and the rest of the forest will remain under Stage 2 fire restrictions.
Closed trails include the Bear Creek, Gold Run, Sharkstooth, Ryman Creek, Salt Creek, Rough Canyon, Morrison, Rio Lado, Grindstone Loop, portions of Aspen Loop Trail, and the Colorado Trail, south from Molas Pass to the Junction Creek Trailhead.
Closed roads include Hillside Drive (FR 436), Roaring Fork (FR 435), Scotch Creek (FR 550), Big Pole Springs Road (FR 401), Little Pole Springs Road (FR 402), Spruce Mill Road (FR 350), Dillons Cabin Road (FR 351), Turkey Creek Road (FR 352), Rock Springs Road (FR 556) and the West Mancos Road (FR 561).
The Burro and 416 fires, previously managed by a joint Rocky Mountain Incident Management Type 1 team along with the Burro Fire, transitioned to new fire management teams last week.
The Burro Fire transitioned to a downsized Type 3 team under the jurisdiction of the San Juan National Forest at 6 a.m. Thursday.
The 416 Fire hit its 14-day limit for working a fire on Thursday, and is now under a Type 1 National Incident Management Organization team. The NIMO team, from Portland, Oregon, will continue to supervise the 466 firefighters working on the wildfire. A NIMO team is structured to manage long-duration fires, ideal for managing fire in the remote country, such as the western side of the 416 Fire.
As of Sunday, the 416 Fire covered 34,378 acres was 37 percent contained. It was expected to grow about 70 acres on Sunday, mainly on its isolated and mostly inaccessible western side. No structures were in danger.
As of Sunday, firefighting efforts in 416 Fire have cost $22.2 million.