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Wildfire east of Durango now 100% contained

Vosburg Pike Fire is 67 acres in size
A single-seat air tanker drops slurry Wednesday on the Vosburg Pike Fire near County Road 228 east of Durango. The fire was 100% contained and 67.3 acres in size as of 8:30 p.m. Thursday. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Containment of the Vosburg Pike Fire, a 67.3-acre blaze east of Durango, progressed steadily without any growth in acreage Thursday.

The fire was reported Wednesday afternoon near the 7000 block of County Road 228, a rural swath of Bureau of Land Management land in La Plata County. The fire was reported to be 40 acres in size at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday but grew to almost 70 acres within an hour.

No structures have been lost, and the fire was 100% contained as of Thursday evening. An evacuation and pre-evacuation order was lifted Thursday morning for residents living in close proximity to the fire. The cause was under investigation.

A Type 3 Incident Management Team led the response for the BLM on Thursday.

“Unless something really odd happens in the next few hours, we’re expecting to call it 100% contained around 8 p.m. (Thursday),” said Andy Lyon, spokesman for the Type 3 team, Thursday evening. “We’re still getting some wind gusts out here, nothing crazy. We’re conservative by nature.”

The National Weather Service said wind speeds should be about 15 to 20 mph Friday.

There is a 40% chance of thunderstorms Friday. Any thunderstorms that develop could produce gusty winds up to 40 mph or so, said Michael Charnick, a NWS meteorologist.

The fire management team is also keeping an eye on the possibility of dry lightning from storms, Lyon said.

The National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch for Friday, meaning conditions for dry lightning are possible.

“Gusty winds can push embers across the fire lines. We want to make sure nothing can creep along across the ground,” Lyon said.

About 100 responders and support personnel were at the scene, including the San Juan Hot Shot crew. Helicopters were on standby, and an air attack plane surveyed the area Thursday, Lyon said.

Their goal Thursday was to strengthen fire lines, 2- to 6-foot-wide lines of removed vegetation, bordering the fire. They had created a 30- to 60-foot ring of fully suppressed terrain within the fire lines all the way around the fire by Thursday evening.

“It was air attack that spotted the fire yesterday. They were going up for an already scheduled flight, and as soon as they were in the air, they saw the smoke,” Lyon said. “So that was pretty fortuitous.”

The U.S. Forest Service, the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District and the Durango Fire Protection District are involved in the response.

“The fire spread into an area that the BLM had previously done a fuel treatment on,” Lyon said. “When the fire hit that treatment area, it did help us gain an upper hand on the fire more quickly than we could’ve otherwise.”

smullane@durangoherald.com

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