Spate of small wildfires erupts around county

Air Park Fire reaches 85 percent containment

For the second consecutive day, several small fires were reported in the area Wednesday, most sparked by lightning strikes from monsoonal storms.

“There are fires everywhere,” Fire Information Officer Pam Wilson said. “We had nine fire starts reported today, and most were in La Plata County.”

The largest fire reported was dubbed the Pinyon 2 Fire and was holding at 20 acres at 9 p.m. Wednesday. It is burning west of Colorado Highway 140, southwest of Redmesa off County Road 106 on Southern Ute land.

“That one’s putting up smoke,” Wilson said. “A lot of the fires are near homes, so I’m sure there’s a lot of interest. Most of the fires have crews on the ground, and helicopters are making bucket drops.”

Other fires reported around the county included:

The North Fire on Taylor Ranch in Durango Hills, south of Florida Road (County Road 240), estimated at two-tenths of an acre.

The Cutoff Fire is on Bureau of Land Management land southeast of Helen’s Store and west of Enchanted Forest Estates, and was estimated at a quarter of an acre.

The Vosburg Pike Fire, estimated at 3 acres, is located near county roads 228 and 225 and north of U.S. Highway 160.

The Vista Fire, near County Road 117 and just west of the Vista del Oro subdivision burned three-tenths of an acre and was contained by early Wednesday evening.

In the Weminuche Wilderness north of Vallecito Reservoir, a fire of one-tenth of an acre was reported, but it was only one tree, Wilson said, and it was extinguished relatively quickly.

One fire is burning in Archuleta County and another in Montezuma County.

Because of the Air Park Fire, a number of helicopters and tankers were in the area.

“Aircraft was used in the most populated areas first, and fortunately, all fires were caught before they were a real threat to any homes,” Wilson said. “It’s supposed to be hot and windy tomorrow (Thursday), and I would not be surprised to see a few more flareups that have been smoldering the last few days after lightning strikes from these storms.”

Firefighters continued to make progress on the Air Park Fire on Wednesday, declaring it 85 percent contained as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

According to a news release issued by Wilson, the perimeter line remaining to be built is in the vicinity of Pine Canyon on the east flank of the fire.

All resources except for two 20-person hot-shot crews, a safety officer, a finance person and aircraft personnel were released or reassigned Wednesday.

No injuries or accidents have been reported, and the estimated cost to battle the Air Park Fire is at $576,000.

The lightning-sparked blaze was reported around noon Sunday and burned almost 400 acres the first afternoon. The acreage burned has held steady at about 500 acres on Southern Ute and Bureau of Reclamation lands since Monday evening.

The estimated date for full containment has been pushed back to 7 p.m. Saturday. Fire officials had earlier estimated full containment would occur by 5 p.m. today.

abutler@durangoherald.com