A cost-sharing agreement has been worked out among the agencies that responded last week to a 33-acre wildfire south of Durango.
While a split has been worked out, it will be several months before the exact cost of fighting the 217 Fire will be known, said Hal Doughty, chief of the Durango Fire Protection District.
“Just a small fire like that – 33 acres – can end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
The fire started around 2:30 p.m. Friday about 10 miles south of Durango. Workers for Harry and Paulett Baker were burning weed piles when the fire went out of control, said Fire Marshal Karola Hanks.
Several structures were threatened, so fire managers called in extensive resources, including a heavy air tanker, two single-engine air tankers, a helicopter, a lead plane to guide the air tankers and a plane that circled high to control air traffic. Firefighters also had an airplane do a flyover at dusk to map the boundary of the fire and heat signatures within the burn area.
A 20-person hand crew was brought in Saturday to help contain the blaze.
According to terms of the cost-sharing agreement, most of the aircraft expenses will be covered by two state programs.
Los Pinos Fire Protection District and the Durango Fire Protection District agreed to cover their own expenses since the fire started near a shared boundary.
And La Plata County will cover logistical support costs, including food for firefighters, portable toilets and support services needed for the aircraft, such as gas trucks.
It will be up to the county to decide whether to seek reimbursement from the property owner, Doughty said. But that would be done at a later date, he said. In the meantime, agencies that fought the fire needed to determine how to split the expenses.
La Plata County Attorney Sheryl Rogers could not be reached Wednesday afternoon.