Firefighters were successful with burnout operations on the 441 Fire north of Durango on Missionary Ridge, the U.S. Forest Service said Friday.
Favorable weather conditions allowed burnouts along the First Fork and the Red Creek trails, which secured the southwest edge of the fire line.
“The fire is doing good work cleaning up the dead and down logs and eliminating some of the snags within the fire perimeter,” Incident Commander Trainee Brit Quinlan said in a prepared statement.
The 441 Fire, believed to be caused by a lightning strike, was discovered July 13, about 5 miles east of Durango on the San Juan National Forest.
Because of the dead and downed trees in an area of the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire, the Forest Service let the fire burn fuels that could feed more severe 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 said in a statement this week. “The 441 Fire will meet a variety of resource objectives while protecting values at risk.”
The Forest Service is attempting to keep the fire in a 2,000-acre area. Crews conducted burnout operations Thursday, which made the fire and associated smoke more visible around Southwest Colorado.
As of Friday morning, the fire had burned nearly 300 acres, the Forest Service said.
Small burnout operations continued Friday, which will create an anchor point to provide firefighters a safe location to continue work up the trail as the fire grows. Smoke is expected around the Florida River corridor, as well as areas around Vallecito Reservoir.
Once burnouts are completed, crews will remain in the area to hold and monitor the fire.
“Our main concerns for firefighters is the steep terrain and snags,” Operations Trainee Noah Daniels said in a statement.
About 44 firefighters and support personnel are on scene to ensure the fire stays within the predetermined boundary. Nighttime smoke is expected to settle into the valleys overnight.