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Lightning the cause of Navajo Lake fire, officials say

BLM fire officials aim to have blaze 50% contained by Monday night
Four San Juan County Power Co-op power line poles were damaged as a result of a fire Saturday, which burned 73 acres northwest of Navajo Lake. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Fire officials say a lightning strike sparked a blaze northwest of Navajo Reservoir on Saturday just south of the Colorado border.

Lightning hit a tree, igniting flames that spread to surrounding vegetation.

Bureau of Land Management Assistant Fire Management Officer Robert Picazo said the fire had burned around 73 acres as of Monday, about 40 of which were on BLM land.

It also burned around 33 acres of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation land. BLM fire crews said that the fire had been 75% contained as of 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The fire has been turned over to the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management and New Mexico State Forest Service. Crews from Los Pinos Fire District and the San Juan Forest Service also participated in helping douse the flames over the weekend.

Multiple reports of a fire were made at around 1 p.m., and crews were on the scene by around 3 p.m. Saturday. A fire aircraft also spotted the smoke around that time Saturday.

Crews initially speculated if there was more than one fire, but Picazo confirmed that this was a singular incident caused by the lightning strike.

Crews from the Farmington Fire Department and San Juan County, New Mexico, Fire and Rescue also helped extinguish the flames. Farmington Fire brought two single engine air tankers and one large air tanker.

In addition to damage to surrounding vegetation, the fire also destroyed four power lines, which had been replaced as of 1 p.m. Monday.

Picazo said that there was also a house less than a half-mile away from the power lines, but it was unharmed by the fire.