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Update: Lightner Creek Fire 95 percent contained

Blaze consumes 412 acres

The Lightner Creek Fire was 95 percent contained by Sunday evening and firefighters expected to spend Monday mopping and monitoring the fire.

Better mapping revealed the fire has consumed 412 acres, a small increase from earlier on Sunday when it was reported to be 406 acres, said Rocky Mountain Team Black spokesman Chris Barth.

All the residents of County Roads 207 and 208 displaced by the fire were allowed to return home over the weekend. The first phase was allowed to return home Saturday evening and the second phase was allowed in Sunday morning.

The fire required about 170 homes to be evacuated, but only the home where the fire started Wednesday, on the 1200 block of Lightner Creek Road, was burned.

All residents were required to get a rapid tag card, with identifying information from the evacuation center at Escalante Middle School.

Residents are allowed to come and go from the area, but the fire management team asked them to limit travel during times of heavy firefighting traffic from 7 to 9 a.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Law enforcement is still prohibiting the public from accessing County Roads 208 and 207 because the fire fight is ongoing, Barth said Sunday.

Trenton Wann and his wife, Barbara Hawn, were among those receiving the rapid tag cards Sunday morning.

The couple and others seemed understanding about the need for cards to keep the roads open for firefighters.

But they were anxious to get back to their home on County Road 207 after staying with friends and then camping for a few days.

“I am interested to see what’s there,” Hawn said.

The secondary spot fire started behind their house Wednesday night, and she was worried about trees and wildlife near her home.

“It was intimidating because it was billowing and dropping,” she said.

Firefighters had containment lines around the entire fire by Saturday and planned to spend Sunday strengthening the line around a section of fire northwest of Perins Peak Sunday, Barth said.

Helicopters and supervising airplane were helping to fight the fire from the air, he said.

Residents and visitors should not be concerned about smoke that may be visible from the fire.

As firefighters are putting in fire lines they keeping the potential for future flooding in mind, he said. Flooding is common after wildfires.

“They are thinking about that as they are doing their work,” he said.

The fire burned hot around the house where it started, but in other areas it was less intense burning the oak brush and other understory vegetation, leaving trees alive, he said.

The Rocky Mountain Team Black took over management of the fire on Friday from local groups. Administrators and firefighters have been working out of the La Plata County Fairgrounds, but will be likely leaving soon and they are already starting to downsize, Barth said.

The Red Cross shelter at Escalante Middle School closed at 10 a.m. Sunday, All leftover donations are going to be redistributed to local nonprofits, such as the Durango Food Bank and help replace some of the supplies that the Red Cross keeps in storage said Bill Werner, Red Cross disaster program manager.

It was the first major emergency since the Red Cross office in Durango was consolidated into a larger chapter consisting of 11 counties on the Western Slope and the disaster response went well, Werner said.

“We go where the disaster is, not where the office is,” he said.

The Red Cross housed 12 to 15 people the first night and about 20 to 25 people the second night, he said. The nonprofit also gave away snacks and comfort kits that included towels, soap, shampoo and razors to evacuees.

Volunteers came from Ouray, Grand Junction and Pagosa Springs to help, he said.

mshinn@durangoherald.com

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