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Type 2 team sets up at Montezuma County Fairgrounds

Firefighter city begins to emerge to battle East Canyon Fire

The Rocky Mountain Blue Type 2 team taking over management of the East Canyon Fire is setting up headquarters at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds.

During an operations briefing Tuesday, local and federal firefighters huddled around maps with Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin, La Plata Sheriff Sean Smith and Mancos Fire Protection District Chief Tony Aspromonte.

The fire straddles the county line southeast of Mancos.

Blue Team liaison officer Kevin Doherty reviewed the lay of the land and was updated on fire activity and evacuation areas by local officials.

High value infrastructure was identified near the fire, including residences, power lines, pipelines and water sources. The information is relayed to fire leaders in the field.

The fairgrounds operations base will soon sprout firefighter tents and yurts. Rooms in the indoor arena were filling with technicians manning laptop computers. The parking lots are gaining trucks and firefighting equipment.

The arrangement will accommodate social distancing protocols for COVID-19 prevention, said public information officer Shawna Hartman.

The East Canyon Fire is becoming more complex as it expands in a rugged area with limited access, and in multiple jurisdictions during severe drought conditions.

The 2,700-acre fire straddles both counties, and is burning on Bureau of Land Management and private land.

The fire is growing north and south and is approaching U.S. Highway 160 from the south. Across the highway is San Juan National Forest land.

As the fire complexity grows, fire management transfers to the next level, said public information officer Pam Wilson.

Michael Hayden is the new incident commander.

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