Headway is made on Little Sand Fire

Crews continue to make headway on the Little Sand Fire, burning near Pagosa Springs.

A news release from fire managers Sunday morning said the fire was 20 percent contained, up from 15 percent Saturday.

The increased containment comes with a decrease in crews.

Six crews and 261 firefighters are now working on the fire, down from seven crews and 278 firefighters Saturday.

“Much of the risk associated with the Little Sand Fire has greatly reduced,” the release said.

And while 21 structures and additional outbuildings remain at risk, no structures have been destroyed. Crews had completed their structure-protection work by Sunday morning, and planned to continue cleaning up in completed areas.

The fire that was caused by lightning May 13 now covers 5,959 acres and fire managers say increased smoke may be visible when the fire reaches unburned areas as it backs down to Trail Creek.

Predicted thunderstorms and shifting winds in the area through Sunday could affect fire behavior, the release said.

Another Colorado wildfire, the Sunrise Mine Fire, four miles north of Paradox near the Utah border, is nearly out.

Spokesman David Eaker said Sunday afternoon that crews expected to have the fire fully contained by the end of the day, barring some unexpected event that might drastically change conditions.

In addition to putting “the finishing touches” on containing the fire Sunday, firefighters also began the rehabilitation process, which includes cleaning up and covering the line with dirt, Eaker said.

Once the fire is out, local authorities will take on the rehabilitation effort.

Crews on the Sunrise Mine Fire could be transferred to another pressing fire, such as the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire, which now spans 377 square miles in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest.

Firefighters are called in for 14 days at a time, so whether or not they will transfer depends on how much time they have left on duty, Eaker said.

scook@durangoherald.com

Comments » Read and share your thoughts on this story