Crews mop up Weber Fire

Trace of rain Tuesday night adds humidity

Frank Kivett, right, and Matteo Romona pull a firehose as they put out hot spots Wednesday inside the Weber Fire. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Frank Kivett, right, and Matteo Romona pull a firehose as they put out hot spots Wednesday inside the Weber Fire.

MANCOS – Firefighters worked to douse hot spots on the Weber Fire, which showed minimal activity Wednesday.

The 6-day-old fire was more than 9,000 acres in size and 30 percent contained Wednesday, incident commanders said. A news release late Wednesday night called burnout operations successful.

The entire burn area received light rain Tuesday night, which helped raise humidity levels but did little to extinguish smoldering embers, said Eric La Price, a spokesman for the federal incident command team.

“We did get moisture on the entire fire, but it was very minimal,” he said. “It wasn’t a wetting rain, just enough to dampen things.”

One outbuilding burned, but no homes have been lost.

The Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office evacuated 140 homes and put another 390 homes on pre-evacuation notice.

A man who answered a fire-information line for the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office said he did not know how many homes remained evacuated Wednesday night.

“We’re not seeing a whole lot of activity,” La Price said Wednesday. “The fire is pretty settled down in this area.”

Firefighters have begun mop-up duty, which involves looking for hot spots, exposing them with hand tools and dousing them with water. They planned to create a 75-foot zone around the fire’s perimeter and a 150-foot zone around structures.

The Weber Fire had more than 500 people assigned to it.

Michael Hill, a crew boss overseeing a team from Winnemucca, Nev., was involved in mop-up work Wednesday on the western side of the fire. Battling live flames is exciting, he said, but mop-up work is equally important.

Hill said he was told to pack up his tent Wednesday morning and be prepared to move in the event that a lightning strike sparked a new fire.

“I hate to see new starts, especially when it’s so dry like this,” he said. “You look down the canyon and see houses like this. It could just as easily be your house or your grandma’s house.”

Matteo Romano of Stone Mountain, Ga., said it was his first wildfire. He planned to buy a “Weber Fire” T-shirt being sold at the base camp at Montezuma County Fairgrounds.

“It’s a little village; they have everything you want,” he said.

shane@durangoherald.com

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