Firefighters have contained a fire that broke out on Wetherill Mesa, on the west side of Mesa Verde National Park, on Wednesday.
Cristy Brown, the park’s public information officer, said in a news release Wednesday afternoon that a lightning strike sparked the fire, dubbed the Rock Springs Fire. It spread over about 1 acre on the mesa by 4:30 p.m. Brown said Mesa Verde’s fire engine and helitack personnel were battling the fire, and visitors to the area were evacuated. The park closed early.
By Thursday morning, the fire was down to a half-acre.
“Mesa Verde staff will resume regularly scheduled operations and tours on Wetherill Mesa,” she wrote.
Chapin Mesa, which contains the main ancestral Pueblo ruins, was unaffected by the fire, according to a news release.
Brown said there are two other small fires currently burning in the park: a half-acre fire near Wickiup Canyon that was also reported Wednesday, and a 4.5-acre fire near School Section Canyon that was reported Sunday. Firefighters were still working to contain the Wickiup Fire as of Thursday morning, but the School Section Fire was already “contained and controlled,” according to the release.
The recent fires are “holdovers” from lightning that struck the area during thunderstorms several days ago, Brown said. Mesa Verde remains under a burn ban, which prohibits campfires and smoking outside of designated areas.