Residents near the “358 Fire” were nervously preparing to evacuate Friday afternoon and watching the smoke from the blaze near Sunrise Lane and County Road 245, northeast of Durango.
The fire was reported Friday afternoon, and it had consumed between 30 and 40 acres by 7:30 p.m., said Bruce Evans, chief of the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District. It was started by someone shooting a gun recreationally at a private gun range. The shooter was not using any special ammunition considered especially fire prone, he said.
For Hallie Whitney and Rob Cowen, residents of Enchanted Forest, the fire and sound of planes and helicopters flying overhead brought back memories of the Missionary Ridge Fire in 2002, which came just feet from their shed.
“We are kind of mentally and emotionally prepared because of what happened before,” Whitney said.
The couple was packing up their belongings when they were informed by La Plata County Sheriff’s deputies that their subdivision was on a pre-evacuation order. They were anticipating the fire might come toward Enchanted Forest based on the wind.
The couple is conscious of the fire threat, and Cowen has been working to clear brush and trees and other fire fuels from around his house for the last three weeks.
“We parted with some really nice trees,” he said.
Peggy Wilson was also packing up her belongings, selecting mostly irreplaceable items, like photos. Her home, near the intersection of county roads 240 and 243, was about 3 miles from the fire, and its plume of smoke was clearly visible.
Even before the sheriff’s deputies visited her home to tell her about the pre-evacuation order, leaving was on her mind.
“I was thinking about packing up. I could see how close the smoke was,” she said.
Max Muro and Ryley Jarvis could hear the planes passing over Muro’s house off County Road 502 and drove to the road blockade at County Road 245 to watch the helicopters and planes fight the fire.
“You could see all the smoke and everything from my window,” Muro said.
However, his home was not expected to be threatened by the blaze, he said.
Pre-evacuation orders were still in effect for several hundred homes including Enchanted Forest and Tween Lakes on Friday night.