Crews battle Cherry Creek fire

An airplane prepares to drop fire retardant on a blaze about a mile west of Cherry Creek Road (County Road 105) and Choke Cherry Creek Ranch. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

An airplane prepares to drop fire retardant on a blaze about a mile west of Cherry Creek Road (County Road 105) and Choke Cherry Creek Ranch.

CHERRY CREEK - Firefighters on Wednesday were working to suppress a wildfire that sparked in western La Plata County.

No structures were in immediate danger, said Butch Knowlton, director of La Plata County's Office of Emergency Management.

The fire was reported shortly after 2 p.m. about a mile north of Cherry Creek Road (County Road 105) and about eight miles south of U.S. Highway 160. It was near the Montezuma-La Plata county line.

Steve Ebner, fire chief with the Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District, said the fire, which he estimated at 4 acres Wednesday evening, was probably caused by a lightning strike from a storm Monday.

"We got here and it was smoking and smoldering, and it just blew up," Ebner said.

A single-engine air tanker, and a helicopter with a water bucket were on hand Wednesday evening to fight the blaze, Knowlton said.

Ebner said his agency was being assisted by the Southern Ute Fire Department, Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, and hand crews from Bayfield and the Upper Pine Fire Protection District.

It started on a hillside and was spreading up the slope, Knowlton said. It was burning in thick piņon and juniper.

"There's a high potential of spread because of the slope, winds, vegetation and fuel coverage," Knowlton said.

shane@durangoherald.com

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