Wildfires pop up around area

Animas Canyon blaze reaches 40 acres Sunday

Several small wildfires broke out this weekend across the San Juan National Forest aided by high winds and dry conditions, according to the U.S. Forest Service. However, Southwest Colorado is not currently under a red-flag alert.

The Goblin Fire in the Animas Canyon in the San Juan National Forest north of Durango was estimated Sunday afternoon to have reached 40 acres. It is burning on the east side of the canyon near Needles Creek, forest spokeswoman Ann Bond said in a news release.

An ember from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was suspected as starting the Goblin Fire. It was being fought by U.S. Forest Service and railroad firefighters, aided by a Type 3 helicopter.

Forest Service firefighters are also working farther to the west on two wildfires reported Saturday on the shores of McPhee Reservoir, Bond said. The 8-acre Big Bend Fire, which has been contained, is under investigation; another fire caused by an escaped campfire is now controlled, Bond said.

Of greater concern is the Cinnamon Bear Fire, southwest of Pagosa Springs, which was reported at 20 acres Saturday morning, but grew to an estimated 110 acres by Saturday evening, Bond said. The fire is “in a remote area of Bear Basin two miles south of Blue Mountain.”

By Saturday evening, there were 25 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service, Mesa Verde National Park, Pagosa Fire and Upper Pine Fire District working the Cinnamon Bear Fire. The Forest Service already has ordered additional resources, including Type 1 and Type 3 helicopters, two single-engine air tankers, the Sierra Hotshot crew from Rifle and a Type 2 (initial attack) firefighting crew, Bond said.

Type 1 helicopters are the heaviest of the fleet, carrying the largest payload of water or fire retardant. Type 3 helicopters do “bucket drops” on fires.

The Type 3 helicopter is also making drops on the nearby Wedding Fire, estimated at 1.2 acres in size about two miles southwest of Blue Mountain. The Cinnamon Bear and Wedding fires are believed to have been started by lightning, Bond said.

“With the first rifle season under way this weekend, the Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch Center warns anyone heading into the backcountry to be extremely careful with fire under the current dry and windy conditions,” Bond said.

rgalin@durangoherald.com

This story has been corrected since it was originally published.

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