State Line Fire 50% contained

A firefighter works Monday to put out remnants of the State Line Fire. Enlarge photo

ISAIAH BRANCH-BOYLE/Durango Herald

A firefighter works Monday to put out remnants of the State Line Fire.

The State Line Fire, which has burned 350 acres along U.S. Highway 550 near Bondad, was declared 50 percent contained Monday.

Pam Wilson, fire information officer, didn’t expect any additional acres to burn, but emphasized the area wasn’t out of danger yet.

“We feel pretty good about it. But it’s not done until it’s done,” she said.

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Ann Bond said, “The focus is holding and improving the lines and beginning mop up.”

The blaze was sparked Saturday afternoon about two miles north of the Colorado-New Mexico line and west of the highway. The cause remains under investigation, but human activity is suspected, said Rich Gustafson, incident commander.

Battling the blaze Monday afternoon were 140 fire personnel, 10 engines and a helicopter from Mesa Verde National Park. Crews were using the chopper to dump 100-gallon loads of water from the Animas River on smoldering areas.

Firefighters said the river’s current and nearby power lines made extracting the water more complicated, but it allowed for faster delivery to the burn area than transporting water from area reservoirs.

The strategy of using an irrigated field on the east side of the fire as a containment boundary proved successful, said Gustafson. Once the blaze encountered the field, it split into two smaller halves that were easier to extinguish.

The fire has torched one structure so far, a house belonging to Tom Ross. All that remained of the house Sunday was a pile of scrap metal and a few charred appliances.

Ross was doubtful that he would rebuild on the same site, citing increased risk for mudslides and rockslides in the burn area.

Pre-evacuation notices were distributed Saturday night to residents on the southernmost end of County Road 213, or La Posta Road.

Those notices are still in effect until further notice, Wilson said.

Both lanes on U.S. Highway 550 were open to traffic Monday afternoon. The road had been reduced to one lane Sunday to leave room for shuttling fire equipment.

Management of the fire has been transferred to a Durango-based Type 3 incident-management team.

lgroskopf@durangoherald.com

A firefighter works to put out remnants of the State Line Fire on Monday. Enlarge photo

ISAIAH BRANCH-BOYLE/Durango Herald

A firefighter works to put out remnants of the State Line Fire on Monday.

ISAIAH BRANCH-BOYLE/Durango Herald
The State Line Fire’s progress was obstructed by an irrigated field to the east. The flames bifurcated into smaller sections that were easier to extinguish. Enlarge photo

ISAIAH BRANCH-BOYLE/Durango Herald The State Line Fire’s progress was obstructed by an irrigated field to the east. The flames bifurcated into smaller sections that were easier to extinguish.

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