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Ute Pass Fire northeast of Durango is 80% contained

Pre-evacuation alert lifted for residents of the Ute Pass subdivision
Ute Pass Fire Perimeter on May 16, at 12:15 p.m.

Life is “back to normal” for residents who had to evacuate their homes last week because of the Ute Pass Fire, said Hal Doughty, chief of the Durango Fire Protection District, on Monday.

Roughly 60 homes were forced to evacuate Friday afternoon from the Ute Pass subdivision and along County Road 237, a couple of miles northeast of Durango as the crow flies.

The fire, which broke out shortly before 4 p.m. and quickly grew to 30 acres in size, was 80% contained and entirely encircled by water hose lines as of 11 a.m. Monday. The Durango Fire Protection District is now in the phase of mopping up, a labor-intensive process that involves removing burning material to ensure that the fire does not spread out of the containment area. About 20 personnel will stay on-site for the next few days to monitor the hot spots.

“It really is a success story,” Doughty said. “The fire wasn’t huge, but the location made it really dangerous.” No structures were lost, despite the fire coming within 50 yards of residential buildings.

On Friday, over 50 firefighters from the Durango Fire Protection District, Los Pinos Fire District, the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, and the U.S. Forest Service worked to suppress the initial blaze, along with a Type-2 helicopter and two large air tankers. As of Saturday afternoon, all air support was grounded. The Durango Fire Protection District still has the helicopters and air tankers on standby.

The DFPD said it planned to release the cause of the fire Monday, but as of 6:40 p.m., no cause had been reported.

gholst@durangoherald.com

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