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10-acre fire at Durango’s doorstep cost an estimated $180,000

Local, state, federal agencies responded to Barnroof Fire
A 10-acre fire near Perins Peak State Wildlife Area was fully contained and controlled as of Wednesday. (Durango Herald file)

A10-acre fire northwest of Durango in the Perins Peak State Wildlife Area is out cold after an estimated $180,000 was spent fighting the blaze.

The Barnroof Fire, named after Barnroof Point, was detected Aug. 6 and burst from about 0.2 acres to about 10 acres the next day. Local, state and federal agencies immediately threw aircraft, fire apparatus and crews at the fire to make sure the blaze remained small in size.

“If it had dropped down into County Road 208, it could have headed into Deep Creek, into the Lightner Creek area and challenged the edge of town (Durango),” said Randy Black, deputy chief for the Durango Fire Protection District. “That’s what everyone was working on keeping it out of.”

The fire was caused by lightning strikes earlier this month.

“We had so much lightning in the area, the crews were going to two, three, four fires every day trying to put them out,” Black said.

Aircraft from the federal Forest Service, state of Colorado and Bureau of Land Management responded, in addition to the Durango Fire Protection District and a private company. The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control took the lead on the response. A total of 18 crew members responded at the fire’s peak, Black said.

“Anything west of town on a windy day is a huge concern for us,” he said.

The weekend of Aug. 7-8 had both hot temperatures and erratic winds. The haze in Durango, however, was primarily caused by large fires in Western states.

“The fire ended up running in every direction. The helicopter that was doing bucket work, their heli-spot was getting threatened,” Black said. “Crews were just scrambling up there doing everything they could to try and get it contained that day. Luckily, they stayed safe, got a handle on it.”

The fire was fully contained and controlled as of Wednesday, and no structures were threatened. Based on recent checks, the fire is out with no heat detected in the area, Black said Friday.

The total cost for responding to the fire is estimated at $180,000, a cost that is shared between DFPD, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (on behalf of the county through intergovernmental agreements), and the state Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

In less-risky weather conditions, responders might have turned the blaze into a managed fire for mitigation purposes, Black said. Those small, managed fires can be beneficial to the environment.

“With lightning that hit with such intensity, even with all the rain we had, there were still some sleeper fires,” Black said. “It’s just a reminder to people that ... it doesn’t take but a couple of days of sun, and all of the sudden those (fires) come back to life.”


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