BONDAD – A wildland fire torched at least 30 acres of pinon and dry grasses Friday south of Durango when an open burn went out of control.
The fire, which was reported at 2:30 p.m., made a quick run north up a valley along County Road 217 and Thoroughbred Road, about eight miles south of Durango east of U.S. Highway 550, said Karola Hanks, fire marshal for Durango Fire Protection District.
A white cloud was visible from Durango. The blaze was entirely on private land.
Firefighting crews worked into the evening Friday protecting four structures, Hanks said. No homes were damaged as of Friday night. Fire officials planned to keep an eye on weather conditions and the burn area Saturday to make sure it doesn’t make another run, she said.
The fire, officially named the 217 Fire, was 25 percent contained as of 7 p.m.
Several aircraft, including a heavy airtanker, single-engine plane, helicopter and a lead plane hammered the blaze from above with water and slurry, a fire retardant.
“It was a very quick response, and that is the advantage of having those resources close to home and not deployed someplace else,” Hanks said.
Also helping fight the fire was Los Pinos Fire District, Durango Fire Protection District, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Colorado Office of Emergency Management and federal air forces. Hanks said more resources were en route Friday night to help monitor the situation.
Betsy Rockett, who lives in the 300 block of County Road 217, said she saw her neighbor conducting a controlled burn about 2 p.m. and asked the workers to stop. She didn’t receive a favorable response, she said, and a short time later, the fire had moved into pinon trees and was on her property. She then called 911 to report it.
“I’m pretty stressed out,” Rockett said Friday afternoon. “That’s my house, and the land is gone.” She said her yard had several old cottonwood trees that are burned.
“I knew this was going to happen,” Rockett said. “You don’t do this. You don’t burn your fields at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on one of the hottest days of the year. ... I hope they send him a bill.”
She commended firefighters for their response. “It took them 15 to 20 minutes to get here, but now (firefighters) are here, and I couldn’t be happier,” she said.
The fire moved quickly on dry land. Rockett’s son, Micah Freitas, watched as it spread.
“We were watching piñon trees blow up like Christmas trees,” Freitas said.
Hanks said there was no red flag warning issued Friday, and there may not be one issued Saturday, but it’s likely no burning will be allowed in the Durango Fire Protection District because a large percentage of crew members will be assigned to the fire.
Durango Herald intern Luke Perkins contributed to this firstname.lastname@example.org