The Arkansas Loop Fire that ignited Tuesday afternoon grew to 126 acres Wednesday evening, said Summer Begay, spokeswoman for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
The fire was 5% contained as of Wednesday evening, she said. The Durango Interagency Type III Incident Management Team and Southern Ute Natural Resources are combating the blaze.
Other agencies aiding in the firefight include Southern Ute Fire Department, Durango and Los Pinos fire protection districts, Mesa Verde National Park and a Ute Mountain Ute helicopter, said Richard Gustafson, incident commander trainee.
Up to 100 additional firefighters have been ordered, Begay said in an email to The Durango Herald. Crews are relying heavily on air resources because terrain in the Arkansas Loop area about 21 miles south of Durango is steep and rugged in nature.
She said she does not know what started the fire.
Gustafson said on Wednesday firefighters had placed fire retardant around the blaze, but windy conditions could impact containment efforts. Crews were working under red flag warnings – critical fire conditions – issued Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The National Weather Service report said a red flag warning would remain in effect from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. because of 15-20 mph winds, with gusts up to 35 mph, low relative humidity between 10-15% and dry fire fuels.