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Pre-evacuations lifted as firefighters control Durango’s Perins Peak Fire

County roads 206 and 208 are no longer under notice; crews secure northern edge of blaze
Brian Faith, wildland coordinator with Grand Lake Fire and Rescue, pumps water on Wednesday through 6,000 feet of hose to the Perins Peak Fire west of Durango. Firefighters have secured the northern edge of the fire, and they continued to strengthen containment lines Friday. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Fire officials announced Friday that pre-evacuations have been lifted for county roads 206 and 208 as crews have controlled the Perins Peak Fire west of Durango.

The pre-evacuations were dropped at noon, but they remain in place for the Rockridge subdivision.

New developments Friday afternoon were few.

A perimeter map of the Perins Peak Fire after the first day. The fire started about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday west of Durango and had grown to about 100 acres by nightfall. (Courtesy of InciWeb)

About 140 firefighters, including four hot shot crews, were still engaged on the 102-acre blaze. The fire is 36% contained, but that figure will go up Friday evening after crews reassess their progress, said Lorena Williams, spokeswoman for the San Juan Type 3 Incident Management Team.

Trail closures are still in effect for Overend Mountain Park, Twin Buttes and Perins State Wildlife Area, though those closures will also be reassessed Friday evening. Any changes will be announced Saturday morning, Williams said.

On Thursday, firefighters constructed lines around the fire and began reinforcing the “heel,” or northern edge, of the fire. They continued to strengthen firelines and increase containment on Friday, again concentrating their efforts on the heel of the blaze.

In their “mop-up” operations, firefighters have been building depth into the firelines so that wind-carried embers are held within the interior of the fire.

“We’ve really focused containment efforts in the places where the wind creates the most risk,” Williams said.

Gambel oak brush in the fire was still smoldering Friday, and Williams said the Perins Peak Fire is still far from out. However, she applauded the quick response from firefighters that has quickly gotten the blaze under control.

“This has been a combination of luck and hard work,” she said. “The fire was reported late in the day and that limited the amount of burn period the fire had with the heat of the day to gather steam.

“Between the availability of aviation and multiple hot shot crews, we were able to just hit it with everything we had and engage immediately the next day and that led to a pretty successful outcome,” she said.

A red flag warning from the National Weather Service was in effect Friday and Saturday with a wind advisory Saturday afternoon that forecasts 20 to 30 mph winds with up to 50 mph gusts.

Wind continues to be a cause for concern for firefighters as they attempt to put out the Perins Peak Fire, Williams said.

Of equal concern is the ignition of another blaze. June is Southwest Colorado’s most difficult month for fire weather, and current forecasts call for potential dry lightning, she said.

Williams warned that those in Southwest Colorado need to take fire seriously and follow local fire restrictions.

“We are in Stage 1 fire restrictions and the fire danger is very high,” she said. “We’ve seen the last two weeks between the Plumtaw Fire in Pagosa (Springs) and the Perins Peak Fire here in Durango we just can’t take any chances. On a big holiday weekend with conditions the way they are, people should be more cautious than they’ve been in a long time.”


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