The Mancos State Park on Wednesday announced a partial closure of its campgrounds because of fire risk and the Burro fire east of Dolores reached 3,400 acres on Thursday.
Because of the heavily timbered and steep terrain, creating fire lines has been a challenge, and the fire remains at zero percent containment. A storm has brought some rain, but it also was expected to bring erratic winds and dry lightning, which could expand the fire in the Bear Creek drainage area.
Efforts continued Thursday to establish a containment line on the south and west sides of the fire, according to officials. Hand crews and a bulldozer were clearing a fire line, and portable tanks, hoses and pumps were delivering water to douse spot fires that jump the line.
Stopping the fire from spreading west down Bear Creek Canyon remained a priority to protect private property, residences and a campground along Colorado Highway 145. Firefighters continued to work with property owners to defend against the fire in case it traveled west toward the highway.
The Burro Fire is burning 14 miles south of Rico, 5 miles east of Colorado Highway 145, and 23 miles east of Dolores. The fire area was under a red flag alert Thursday because the storm was expected to bring high winds and 40 mph gusts.
The fire grew by 500 acres Wednesday, spreading into the Rough Canyon area to the northeast and toward Windy Gap, said Andy Lyons, public information officer for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team.
The fire also has jumped Forest Service Road 561 on the south, where firefighters have been trying to establish a containment line to prevent it from spreading that direction.
The fire was moving northeast and southeast, with possible spot fires toward the west, according to infrared mapping conducted by airplane Wednesday night. Spot fires to the east were near Indian Trail Ridge.
The Burro Fire’s behavior is described as short crown runs, torching, short-range spotting and flanking.
Estimated containment is expected in mid-July.
Indian Trail Ridge is somewhat of a natural firebreak to the east because it is near the tree line and has less timber, but embers from the Burro Fire could sail over the ridge and light fires in the heavily wooded Hermosa drainage, Lyons said.
On the eastern side of the ridge, the 416 Fire continued to rage. As of Thursday, it had burned 29,000 acres and was 15 percent contained.
Both the Burro and 416 fires were creeping toward each other, and were about 6 miles apart.
No structures have been lost in the Burro Fire. The estimated cost to fight it is at $450,000, Lyons said.
On Wednesday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced that the north and west shores of Jackson Gulch Reservoir in Mancos State Park would close because of “exceptionally high fire risk.”
All roads, trails and campsites in that area of the park, which borders the San Juan National Forest, were closed. Campers in the four occupied campsites were asked to move to a different part of the park.
Park manager Scot Elder said CPW decided to implement the partial closure because Mancos State Park has the same type of fuel as the San Juan National Forest, which closed Tuesday because of fire danger. He also said some visitors to the park recently failed to comply with the Stage 2 fire restrictions, and he didn’t want to risk that another mistake might start a wildfire.
“We’ll monitor this closure frequently and adjust it to find balance between providing recreation while minimizing risk,” Elder said.
The park’s main campground, the two rental yurts, the group picnic area and the boat ramp will remain open for the time being. Parts of the reservoir’s shoreline, along the dam and the south side, are open to fishing and nonmotorized boat launches.
Stage 2 fire restrictions remain in place for the park, meaning all open fires are prohibited and smoking is only allowed inside a vehicle. According to the release, everyone who has made a reservation for a campsite in the closed part of the park will be moved to the main campground.
Lone Dome and Fish Creek State Wildlife Areas have also been closed. In Durango, the Bodo, Perins Peak, Haviland Lake, Devil Creek and Williams Creek wildlife areas are closed, and the Lion’s Club shooting range in Bayfield is also closed. Navajo State Park, Ridgway State Park, Echo Canyon State Wildlife Area and Pastorious State Wildlife Area are still open.
Mesa Verde National Park will also stay open unless a fire threatens its borders, public information officer Cristy Brown said Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the San Juan National Forest was closed to public use, including campgrounds, trails and National Forest System roads.
Grazing on forest lands and access to private land will require written authorization from a district ranger. McPhee Reservoir and the McPhee Boat Ramp likely will remain open, but no shoreline activity will be allowed.
The Dolores-Norwood Road (Forest Road 526) will remain open. All logging and outfitting in the forest will be prohibited.
Burro Fire forest closures (PDF)
At a glance
The Burro Fire, named for a nearby mountain, started June 8 and burns 5 miles up the Bear Creek drainage east of Dolores.
Size of fire:
3,400 acres, with no containment as of Thursday morning. It is expected to burn for weeks. Containment is projected for July 15.
Create containment lines on the west and south sides of the fire to keep it from CO. 145 and the Haycamp and Transfer Park areas. A bulldozer crew is working to clear a line along with hand crews. Firefighters were scouting for containment opportunities along the north and west sides of the fire.
The San Juan National Forest is closed to recreation, effective Tuesday. Mancos State Park is partially closed.
Managed by a Type 1 crew in Dolores along with the larger 416 Fire north of Durango. More than 200 personnel are battling the Burro Fire.
Cloudy, 20 percent chance of rain on Thursday and Friday. Rain predicted for Saturday.