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Update: Yellow Jacket Fire reaches 395 acres; containment is 50%

Spring Fire in Canyons of Ancients is 100% contained

A fire in Yellow Jacket Canyon southwest of Lewis reached 395 acres Monday and was 50% contained by Tuesday.

The blaze, dubbed the Yellow Jacket Fire, has burned on private land and on Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. It is west of the intersection of County Roads 19 and V and is near farms.

The fire, discovered Sunday, grew quickly, but no structures or residences were threatened, said Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire was 50% contained, said federal Fire Management Officer Pat Seekins. Containment was primarily on the southern end.

Fifty-five fire personnel were on scene, down from 80 on Monday. The San Juan Hotshots were deployed, and helicopters and single-engine air tankers were standing by. No structures were threatened, and no evacuations were ordered.

Seekins said containment was expected to grow day by day. The fire was “smoldering and creeping.”

The fire burned in pinon-juniper vegetation and moved northeast. It has burned on 70% private land and 30% monument land, and nearly reached the bottom of Yellow Jacket Canyon.

As of 10 p.m. Sunday, the fire was at 378 acres, up from 80 acres at 6:15 p.m., according to the Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch. Lightning from a storm Saturday night was the suspected cause.

Bureau of Land Management, San Juan National Forest, and Pleasant View Fire Department crews responded and employed a full-suppression strategy.

Because of the fire’s remote location, air support was called to drop fire retardant, Nowlin said. A red flag warning was in effect for Montezuma County.

Twenty-six wildfires have been reported in the area since this weekend, according to the county Office of Emergency Management.

The Spring Fire

The 155-acre Spring Fire burned in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument south of County Road N. As of Tuesday afternoon, it was 100% contained, Seekins said. Forty-five personnel remained at the scene as the fire was demoted to patrol status.

It also was attributed to a lightning strike.

A Kinder Morgan compression station is about a half-mile north of the Spring Fire, and vegetation was cleared around a nearby telecommunication tower.

In both fires, the use of heavy machinery was avoided to protect cultural resources, and hand crews built the fire line in the monument, Seekins said. Planes and helicopters dropped retardant.

A 1-acre wildfire in Beaver Creek, northeast of Dolores in the San Juan National Forest, has been controlled. It was discovered 3:13 p.m. Sunday. The cause was being investigated, Seekins said.


Yellow Jacket Fire (PDF)

Spring Fire (PDF)