The Moccasin Mesa Fire, burning in Mesa Verde National Park, remained at 185 acres on Wednesday, two days after firefighters engaged the blaze on the ground.
The fire was burning in steep terrain and on the mesa top and presented challenges where it was burning into a tributary of School Section Canyon, according to the command’s post on InciWeb. The fire was reported by Park Point Lookout about noon Saturday, said park public information officer Cristy Brown. On Tuesday, it was 10 percent contained.
A local Type 3 incident command team, from Durango, assumed command of the fire on Sunday.
Tuesday’s objectives were to build additional containment lines, maintain a strategy of full suppression and direct attack, lay fire hose lines, and begin mopping up burned perimeter. Longer-term objectives include keeping the fire west of Moccasin Mesa Road and containing the fire in the 1972 burn scar. Previously burned areas on Moccasin Mesa, including the Balcony House Complex (2003) and Moccasin Mesa Fire (1972) have aided in slowing the fire’s advance, Brown said.
Saw line was completed along the northwest portion of the fire, and hand line construction is complete on the southeast portion of the fire, which touches several acres of Ute Mountain Ute land. Interior fuels continued to burn, and although the fire previously slipped into School Section Canyon, the fire’s size has not increased since Sunday.
Hot, dry weather and rugged topography will continue to challenge firefighters, the incident command said.
According to the incident team, led by Richard Gustafson, about 117 personnel were working on the fire from Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Canyonlands National Park, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fremont County and Pike National Forest. Equipment included a half-dozen fire engines, a Type 2 and Type 3 helicopter, and air attack and single-engine air tankers.
There have been no injuries or other incidents related to the fire.
The incident command team was working with advisers to protect the archaeological sites in the park.
The park is World Heritage site and home to more than 4,300 sites of ancestral Puebloan people. It is known internationally for the 600 cliff dwellings within the park’s 52,485-acre boundary.
“Cultural resource advisers continue to provide guidance and information to operations,” the incident command team said. “This collaboration is instrumental in ensuring the respectful treatment and preservation of irreplaceable objects and sites, which provide context and connection to this area’s rich culture and history.”
The park is open, and services on Chapin Mesa are available; however, the Chapin Mesa Picnic Area, the large parking lot near Park Point (B Cut Parking Lot) is closed and is being used for firefighting operations.
No public roads or trails have been closed, but the roadside pullout between mile markers 8 and 9 have been restricted to fire personnel.
The park reminded visitors that fire personnel have the right of way and asked that visitors do not stop in the roadway. Drones are prohibited in the park.