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Mesa Verde fire nearly under control; lightning sparks others

The Cortez Fire Protection District wildland firefighting crew is assisting with the Chalk Mountain Fire in Texas. (Courtesy Cortez Fire Protection District)
Rain helps with fire danger, but risk is still high, officials say

Rainstorms are helping to ease wildfire danger in Montezuma County, but overall fire danger is still high, and lightning strikes continue to start fires in the region.

The largest is the 23-acre Long Fire, burning in Mesa Verde National Park southwest of Chapin Mesa and Long Mesa. Officials reported Saturday afternoon that it had not grown and it was expected to be contained by Sunday.

Montezuma County Emergency Manager Jim Spratlen said Monday he was informed that the fire was being controlled.

“They are getting their arms around it, and it’s not looking to spread anymore,” he said.

Another fire at the park on the Wetherill Mesa Road broke out 9 a.m. Monday. The fire, estimated at one-tenth of an acre, was contained and controlled by 11:50 a.m., according to Durango Interagency Dispatch Center. The cause was not available.

Sunday afternoon, lightning from a storm cell ignited three tree fires in a half-acre area on the rim of Yellow Jacket Canyon southwest of Lewis, said Lewis-Arriola Volunteer Fire Department Chief George Deavers.

District fire crews extinguished the fires, which spread minimally and were on the border of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. A fourth smoke report in the area could not be located, and fire crews patrolled the area Monday.

Lewis-Arriola firefighters responded to three lightning-caused fires in a half-acre area southwest of Lewis on Sunday afternoon. (Courtesy Lewis-Arriola Volunteer Fire Department)
Lightning sparked a wildfire east of Telluride Saturday. (Courtesy Telluride Fire Protection District)

The Bowl Fire on Ute Mountain Ute land started Friday afternoon and scorched two-tenths of an acre. It was contained Saturday afternoon, according to Durango Interagency Dispatch Center.

On Saturday afternoon, the Deer Trail Fire started on the Uncompahgre National Forest southeast of Telluride, according to the Telluride Fire Protection District.

Jul 23, 2022
Mesa Verde National Park’s Long Fire, ignited by lightning, under control

The fire, estimated at one-tenth of an acre, was started by lightning and burned in steep terrain northeast of Deer Trail Basin near the Idarado mine.

On Sunday, fire crews reported no growth, although smoke might be visible. The fire was burning on a rocky cliff face with hazardous access. The National Forest Service and the Telluride Fire District will monitor the fire, officials said.

At 5 p.m. Saturday, the Forty Four Plus fire south of Hesperus was reported. The fire, estimated at one-tenth of an acre, was contained Sunday at 12:30 p.m., according to Durango Interagency Dispatch Center.

The Cortez Fire Protection District did not resond to fires over the weekend, said Interim Chief Charlie Borden.

A pattern of rainstorms and increased humidity has lessened fire risk somewhat, but fire danger is still considered high, he said. Montezuma County is still under a fire ban.

The wildland firefighting crew for the Cortez Fire Protection District recently assisted with the Chalk Mountain Fire southwest of Dallas.

The fire has scorched 6,735 acres and destroyed 16 homes. The Cortez crew has worked the day shift in temperatures over 100 degrees. The fire is 20% contained.

The Cortez wildland crew is part of a national network of fire departments trained to assist with larger wildfires, said District Public Information Officer Jessica Borden. The fire district is reimbursed for the cost of sending the crew and use of equipment.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com