Wildfire burning near Vallecito

Lightning suspected after 9,800 strikes recorded

Several wildfires have surfaced throughout the region, including one near Vallecito Reservoir that was burning 60 acres as of Tuesday evening.

The region received 9,800 ground strikes during a lightning storm Friday, and fire officials suspect a strike that has been smoldering since then started the Vallecito Fire.

The fire was reported at noon Tuesday and is burning about one mile west of the southern end of Vallecito Reservoir up Jack Creek in the San Juan National Forest, according to a U.S. Forest Service news release. It is burning within an area that was burned during the Missionary Ridge Fire in 2002.

No structures currently are threatened by the blaze, but 100 to 150 structures along the west side of the reservoir could be threatened within the next 24 to 36 hours, depending on the fire’s spread.

About two dozen firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service, Upper Pine Fire Protection District and Los Pinos Fire Protection District have responded, but the firefighters were pulled back from the area because of the danger of falling snags in the burned area.

A helicopter is making water drops, and air tankers were expected to make retardant drops on the fire Tuesday evening before dark, depending on wind.

Two hot-shot crews have been ordered from California. The Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch has ordered two heavy air tankers, two single-engine air tankers and a Type 1 helicopter to assist firefighters, the release said.

Five members of the San Juan Interagency Hotshot Crew are responding to a wildfire reported in the Crazy Woman Creek drainage of Missionary Ridge north of Durango. The fire is estimated at 2 acres.

The San Juan National Forest is flying a reconnaissance flight north of Durango to check on reports of smoke in the Rockwood and Needleton areas.

The reports are not believed to be coming from the remnants of the Goblin Fire that recently burned in the San Juan National Forest.

jdahl@durangoherald.com

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