Rain, snow could help to battle wildfires

Precipitation possible Thursday through Saturday

Precipitation could soon come to the rescue of firefighters battling wildfires north of Vallecito Reservoir and northeast of Pagosa Springs.

The website of the National Weather Service in Grand Junction talked Tuesday of a dramatic change to winter weather.

There is a chance of rain showers late Thursday. The chances increase Friday, with snow possible Friday night through Saturday as temperatures drop.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you got snow in (Durango), maybe 1 or 2 inches,” meteorologist Tom Renwick said. “It’s still a couple of days away, but snow isn’t out of the question.”

The agency forecast a low of 23 degrees Friday night and a high of 41 on Saturday.

Meanwhile, firefighters have a bulldozer line around the southern end of the Vallecito Fire to stop its advance toward populated neighborhoods near the reservoir, Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch said Tuesday.

The effort was aided by burning fuel inside the dozer line, a statement said.

The fire continues to creep northward through heavy fuel on the ground toward Miller Mountain. Columns of smoke are visible from time to time.

Helicopters continue to drop water on the fire, which began Oct. 12.

The cause originally was believed to be lightning, but probably will be listed as undetermined, agency spokesman Charlie Armiger said Tuesday.

An investigator wasn’t able to visit the site promptly, he said.

The Coal Creek Fire about seven miles northeast of Pagosa Springs has grown to 66 acres from 20 acres on Monday.

Fire managers have not determined the cause of the fire, which was reported Sunday. The fire, entirely in the San Juan National Forest, is about 1.5 miles from private property but isn’t threatening structures.

Suppression is limited to helicopters dropping water as needed. Steep terrain prevents ground crews from building a line.

daler@durangoherald.com

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