A lightning-caused fire on Missionary Ridge will be allowed to burn to remove fuels that could feed future severe wildfires, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The 441 Fire was discovered July 13, about 5 miles east of Durango on San Juan National Forest land. As of Wednesday, the fire was about 20 acres in size.
The Forest Service said the 441 Fire is burning in ponderosa pine and in an area of significant dead and downed trees within the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire scar. Officials say the blaze presents an opportunity to remove fuels that could feed future, potentially bigger and more destructive wildfires.
“The fire is located in an area that will allow fire to play out its natural process in our fire adaptive ecosystem,” the Forest Service wrote in an incident report. “The 441 Fire will meet a variety of resource objectives while protecting values at risk.”
The Forest Service has identified about 2,000 acres for the fire to grow in, though there is no set end date for the blaze.
Smoke is likely to become more visible as the fire spreads, especially along the U.S. Highway 160 east and U.S. Highway 550 north corridors around Bayfield and Durango.