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Firefighters battle 600-acre wildfire north of Pagosa Springs

Small subdivision evacuated as Plumtaw Fire rips through Forest Service lands
The Plumtaw Fire seen from a spotter plane Tuesday about 7 miles north of Pagosa Springs. The fire was about 600 acres in size and was burning through ponderosa pine, Gambel oak and mixed conifer on U.S. Forest Service lands. (Courtesy of San Juan National Forest)

Firefighters were battling a 600-acre wildfire north of Pagosa Springs that put up a plume of smoke so big it could be seen from 50 miles away in Durango.

The fire, called the Plumtaw Fire, was reported about 1 p.m. Tuesday and was burning through ponderosa pine, Gambel oak and mixed conifer on U.S. Forest Service lands, said Lorena Williams, spokeswoman with the San Juan National Forest. It was about 7 miles north of Pagosa Springs in a fairly remote area, she said.

“I know people can see it from Elmore’s Corner and the (Durango-La Plata County) airport,” she said. “You can definitely see it from Pagosa.”

The Plumtaw Fire can be seen in the background behind Chimney Rock on Tuesday. The fire was about 600 acres in size and was burning through ponderosa pine, Gambel oak and mixed conifer on U.S. Forest Service lands. The blaze was about 7 miles north of Pagosa Springs. (Courtesy of San Juan National Forest)

Despite its remoteness, a small subdivision called the Lost Valley of the San Juans in Mineral County was being evacuated. Williams did not immediately know how many homes were being evacuated.

Evacuees and those who need help related to the wildfire can call the Archuleta County Emergency Operations Center at (970) 422-7084.

No structures were believed to have been lost as of 6 p.m., Williams said.

The fire was about 2 miles west of the intersection of Plumtaw Road and Fourmile Road, Williams said.

Multiple resources were assigned to the fire, including five large air tankers, multiple helicopters, several 20-person hand crews and an “air attack platform” – or a plane that flies above all the other aircraft that directs traffic, she said.

“There are multiple resources on order, as well,” Williams said.

A Type III incident management team is expected to take command of the incident, and a Complex Incident Management Team (formerly referred to as a Type I or II team) has been ordered, according to a news release issued Tuesday night.

The fire area is closed to the public, including Fourmile Road (Forest Service Road 645) at the forest boundary, and Plumtaw Road (Forest Service Road 634) from the junction of McManus Road (Forest Service Road 633). The closure includes Fourmile Falls Trailhead.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

shane@durangoherald.com

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