GALLUP WEATHER

Sand Creek fire near Pagosa Springs burns 71 acres, 0% containment

PAGOSA SPRINGS, COLORADO (KRQE) – Fire crews are battling a fire northwest of Pagosa Springs. The fire was caused by lightning on June 15. The fire is burning in the Sand Creek drainage about 21 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs. The fire is within an area previously burned in 2012.

  • Location: 21 miles NW of Pagosa Springs CO, San Juan National Forest
  • Containment: 0%
  • Cause: lightning
  • Size: 71 acres
  • Vegetation: heavy logging slash
  • Structures Threatened: None

On Monday, the Forest Service said large air tankers made 15 retardant drops over the Sand Creek Fire Sunday and a VLAT, Very Large Air Tanker, made one drop as well, effectively slowing the spread of the fire. They also say the retardant will buy firefighters’ time to develop tactics to successfully contain the fire in the days ahead. One hundred ten people are now working on the fire.

“This is very difficult ground for firefighting,” says Incident Commander trainee Tracy Milakovic in a press release, “and we need to carefully assess where we can most safely and effectively engage.” Hotshot crews and Wildland Fire Modules, another type of specialized firefighting team, are in the area and working to identify the best places to construct fire lines, as well as monitoring the fire’s behavior and movement.

The Forest Service says smoke from this fire is visible to the north from US Highway 160 between Pagosa Springs and Bayfield. Fire danger is extreme and fire restrictions are in place on the San Juan National Forest.

A forest closure is in effect in the area of the fire. The Piedra River Trail (596), Little Sand Creek Trail (591), Lower Wiminuche Trail (595) Coldwater Trail (597), and Coldwater Stock Trail (598), are all open as of Thursday, June 25. At this time, the Sand Creek Trail and North Ridge Trail are closed as well as Mosca Road, NFSR 631 in the fire area.

Fire crews report there has been little change on the fire as of Friday, June 26 and the blaze continues to burn with low to moderate intensity. Officials report all Sand Creek firefighting resources remain engaged with the fire as they continue to look for possible control line locations. Improved mapping has resulted in fire crews updating the fire’s containment from 2% on Thursday, June 25 to 0% on Friday.

Very Large Tanker makes a drop on the Sand Creek fire on Sunday, June 21, 2020. Courtesy of InciWeb.
Very Large Tanker makes a drop on the Sand Creek fire on Sunday, June 21, 2020. Courtesy of InciWeb.
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