Firefighters were battling a slow-moving but persistent wildfire Tuesday on Missionary Ridge, north of Durango.
The fire, dubbed the 186 Fire, was reported Tuesday morning in the Stevens Creek drainage and had burned about 4 acres as of 6 p.m., according to emergency responders. The fire was about one-third of a mile uphill from the 156 Fire that started last week on the same ridge, she said.
No structures were in immediate danger, said Denise Alonzo, spokeswoman for the San Juan National Forest, on Tuesday afternoon.
“The fire is actually creeping,” she said. “I don’t want to give the impression that it’s raging or anything. It’s just creeping through the heavy and dead material.”
Two helicopters, an air tanker and a wildland firefighting crew were battling the blaze. A 20-person firefighting crew was also ordered to help suppress the fire.
The fire was burning in an area with thick, downed material that previously burned in the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire.
Smoke was visible from Hermosa and U.S. Highway 550. Vehicles were stopping along the side of the highway Tuesday evening to view the fire.
The fire is a holdover from lightning the night of June 5, Alonzo said. “We do know that it is lightning-caused,” she said.
“It’s not a high level of concern except for the heavy, dead and downed material and the snags that are present, which is a risk for firefighters who are on scene,” she said.
Fire managers were using retardant drops at the top of the fire to keep it from spreading into steeper terrain, according to a Facebook post by the San Juan National Forest. A helicopter crew was working the base of the fire to keep it from spreading downhill.
Alonzo said she understands residents are on edge about wildfire after last year’s 416 Fire that burned 54,000 acres north of Durango, but she said conditions are much improved this year.
“We don’t have a thunderstorm overhead adding more lightning fires to the situation, so that’s a good thing,” she said. “... Conditions are a lot different this year than they were last year at this time. We’re thankful for that.”