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Arkansas Loop Fire scorches 86 acres south of Durango

Type III crew on scene with more support en route
A single-engine tanker drops a load of fire suppressant in August 2020 near Bondad. The Arkansas Loop Fire started on Tuesday. The last mapping effort Tuesday night recorded about 86 acres had burned. Fire crews from multiple agencies were on scene Tuesday with more support expected. (Durango Herald file)

Firefighters from multiple agencies are combating a blaze being called the Arkansas Loop Fire that sprung to life Tuesday afternoon about 21 miles south of Durango near Bondad.

The Arkansas Loop Fire was reported about 12:24 p.m. and quickly grew. The last mapping measurement by a Colorado state multi-mission aircraft Tuesday night recorded the fire at 86 acres, said Richard Gustafson, incident commander trainee, in an interview on Wednesday.

No structures have burned, and none were in immediate danger. Some gas and oil resources were threatened, but firefighters were working to protect them.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ fire management is not calling any percent of the fire contained, and gusty wind conditions could determine how long it takes to wrestle the fire under control.

A Southern Ute Indian Tribe news release said smoke will be visible to nearby communities. The release did not provide a cause for the blaze.

He said the fire crews consist of a Type III incident management team, Southern Ute Fire Department, Durango and Los Pinos fire protection districts, Mesa Verde National Park and a Ute Mountain Ute helicopter.

About 30 personnel are on site, with additional fire engines and two Type II initial attack crews en route, he said.

Firefighters managed to place fire retardant around the flames, but wind gusts of 15-25 mph, possibly reaching 30 mph, could drive how quickly the fire will be contained, he said.

“A little less (windy) than yesterday but still windy,” he said. “So this afternoon will kind of be the test of how well things have held from overnight.”

He said people should avoid flying drones in the area, be aware of fire traffic and follow any directions from firefighters.


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