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Burro Fire reaches 53 percent containment; Type 3 team will take over

Most support personnel in Dolores plan to leave by Thursday

Many of the support personnel in the fight against the Burro Fire prepared to leave on Tuesday after a calm Monday with very little fire growth. Containment of the fire jumped to 53 percent.

Infrared flight mapping about 10 p.m. Monday showed the wildfire remained at 3,715 acres, and had spread about a third of an acre on its eastern perimeter. On Tuesday, crews continued to build fire lines and fuel breaks in Divisions J and N, along the northwest and south sides of the fire, to keep it from advancing toward private property.

The small army of Type 1 interagency support personnel stationed at the incident command site in Dolores began packing up Tuesday morning, and public information officer Andy Lyon said most of them would be gone by Thursday, leaving a smaller Type 3 team to monitor the fire.

The Burro Fire is jumped to 53 percent containment on Tuesday, mainly attributed to the bulldozed lines built in the northwest sector of the Burro area, Lyon said.

About 1.2 inches of rain fell on the area on Saturday and Sunday, giving crews the change to focus on containment. By Tuesday, though, Lyon said the roads around the fire had dried out enough for his vehicle to kick up dust while driving by. The incident management team estimates the fire will be fully contained by July 15.

“Things are drying out rapidly,” he said. “The rain we got is fast going away.”

The Haines Index, which measures instability in the atmosphere that could allow a fire to spread more quickly under the right conditions, rose to a 6 on Tuesday according to incident meteorologist Royce Fontenot, meaning that there is a high potential for an existing fire to become larger. Lyon said the high index number serves as a reminder to firefighters that they need to pay close attention to dry trees that could ignite.

Fontenot predicted that the strongest winds on Tuesday would come after 7 p.m., blowing to the northwest along the ridges of the Bear Creek area at up to 25 mph. No rain was in the forecast until Friday, when Fontenot predicted a chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

Fire crews on Monday focused their efforts on securing fire lines on the southwest perimeter to keep the fire from the Windy Gap area. Lyon said crews are close to accomplishing their goal of making sure the fire is out cold for at least 30 feet on both sides of the southwest perimeter line.

“If the fire should come back to life at some point, those lines will be better able to hold it,” he said. “Every day, those lines become stronger.”

Division R, on the northeast end of the fire, remained unstaffed on Tuesday, because it’s not threatening roads or private property. No structures or property have been lost to the Burro Fire.

Although support personnel were packing up, Lyon said it will be several days before the interagency fire crews could leave the Bear Creek area.

Even when the team is satisfied that the fire is unlikely to flare up, crews must first meet U.S. Forest Service requirements such as removing the piles of brush they cleared from the fire line, since they can become a magnet for harmful insects. Lyon said some personnel would be chipping those piles on Tuesday, and he expects similar work to continue for several days.

Although little smoke from the Burro Fire was visible Tuesday morning in Dolores, Lyon said that could change as winds and temperatures pick up.

“We fully expect to see smoke on the hill off and on for the next couple of days until we get some moisture,” he said.

On Saturday, crews bulldozed more than 6 miles of containment lines on the northwestern and southwestern edges of the fire before a sustained “wetting rain” began to fall. Muddy terrain on Sunday slowed the containment process, but crews got back to work on Monday, removing logs, slash and trees from the northwestern and southwestern fire lines.

A case of dehydration and a minor hand burn were the only human injuries reported in the fire so far. A deer was injured on Monday when it collided with Lyon’s car.

Burro ops map, June 19 (PDF)

Burro IR map, June 19 (PDF)

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