Firefighters from more than five fire districts responded to a controlled grass fire that burned a barn after the homeowner thought it was out on Saturday afternoon.
The fire burned about three-quarters of an acre at 252 County Road 216, south of Durango. It also destroyed a trailer and several trees, Durango Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Randy Black said. Firefighters were called out about 2:30 p.m. and were mopping it up about two hours later.
“The owners had a permit for a controlled burn, and they called it in,” Black said. “They left the property thinking it was out, but it crept along the grass to the barn. When the neighbors saw the burn, they assumed it was the controlled burn, and it wasn’t until they saw flames in the barn that we were called.”
If the property owner had followed all the suggestions Durango Fire makes for controlled burns, it wouldn’t have happened, he said. “This reinforces that missing just one step can have a bad outcome,” Black said. “You should ensure it’s out before it’s out of your sight.”
It’s best to start controlled burns around 8 a.m. and have them out by 10 a.m. To make sure it’s out, the permit holder should put a hand in the fire pit, and if it’s still warm, use a shovel and water to make sure it’s completely out, Black said.
Because there was potential for the wildfire to go east up the hillside toward three homes on top, Durango Fire requested assistance from Upper Pine and Los Pinos fire districts and the San Juan County and Cedar Hill, New Mexico, fire departments.
“(Battalion Chief) Tony Harwig did a great job managing all those crews on multiple frequencies,” Black said. “While there was ash and debris up on top, with humidity up and cloud cover, it wasn’t favorable fire conditions, so we didn’t have any spot fires.”
There were no injuries.
“While the homeowner lost some valuable items stored in the barn, he didn’t lose his home,” Black said.