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Two more fires start in Southwest Colorado

A Forest Service truck follows Bureau of Indian Affairs vehicles entering the Black Ridge Fire area on Thursday as firefighters concentrated efforts in the southwest corner of the burn area. The fire was 40 percent contained Thursday afternoon, and officials said perimeter lines were holding.

Two new fires were reported Thursday in the region, one near Durango and another on Ute Mountain Ute Land.

They came on the heels of three fires that ignited Wednesday and add to the workload of firefighters in Southwest Colorado.

“Yesterday put some stress on the system,” Bruce Evans, chief of Upper Pine Fire Protection District, said in an email Thursday.

The Durango fire was adjacent to the train tracks in the Shalona Hill area of U.S. Highway 550, said Scot Davis, public education coordinator for Durango Fire Protection District. Members of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad wildland crew and DFPD personnel along with the train's helicopter attacked the small fire. This fire was contained as of 2:10 p.m., Davis said.

The second fire is in the Barker Dome area on Ute Mountain Ute Tribal property in New Mexico, said Chris Anderson, chief of Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District. He did not have information on the size and precise location of the fire but said crews were on the scene. Ute Mountain Ute officials could not confirm information about the fire.

Meanwhile, the 78-acre Black Ridge Fire in southern La Plata County was 40 percent contained Thursday evening, and investigators confirmed that it was started by lightning in late June, according to an update from Davis.

Crews used bulldozers, and hand crews and two helicopters to target flare-ups as firefighters built a perimeter line.

Officials lifted the pre-evacuation notices to nearby residences Thursday evening, and oil and gas crews will get access to sites early Friday, Davis said in a release. Helicopters will continue to drop water on the fire on Friday, the release said.

There was also a fire Wednesday on County Road 523 south of Bayfield, an area covered by the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District.

“The fire started on private property and quickly spread into Forest Service land,” Upper Pine officials wrote on the agency's Facebook page. “Personnel from the Columbine Forest Service district responded as well, along with personnel from Los Pinos Fire. Crews were able to get a relatively quick handle on the fire, keeping it to just under 2 acres. Forest Service personnel will continue mop up and to monitor the fire.”

The incidents highlight fire danger in La Plata County, which has a burn ban south of U.S. Highway 160. The National Weather Service said the hot, dry weather causing dangerous fire conditions is expected at least into early next week, before showers might return to the region.

Be prepared

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