The cause of a fire that destroyed two cabins and several acres of wildland earlier this week northeast of Durango remained under investigation as of Friday afternoon, according to the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District.
The fire was reported shortly before 11:30 a.m. Tuesday near the Aspen Trails subdivision, about 12 miles along Florida Road (County Road 240). The fire started in an area near one of the cabins, then spread to another cabin and nearby trees, said Roy Vreeland, Upper Pine deputy chief.
Upper Pine is conducting an investigation to determine the exact origin and cause of the fire. The agency has not ruled out arson as a possible cause, he said.
“Was it caused by nature? Was it accidental? Was it arson? Those are some of the options we look at,” Vreeland said. “We have to be very open-minded during an investigation.”
The agency will conduct interviews with people in the area at the time, examine photos from the scene and consider other materials. Upper Pine did not have a total number of acres burned or a timeline for determining a cause, Vreeland said.
“We’re trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle,” he said. “It’s very difficult.”
Fire engines and water tankers from at least three agencies worked to subdue the flames. About six property owners uphill from the fire were notified of the potential danger, and some were put on a pre-evacuation notice.
The fire could have been much worse if the landowner hadn’t done heavy wildfire mitigation on the property, Upper Pine wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.
Vreeland reminded community members to clean their chimneys regularly. He said fires can also be started by heaters in livestock areas, like chicken coops, and by fireplace ashes placed outdoors or in flammable containers.
“It’s winter time, but it’s very dry,” he said. “As we saw with that fire, it spread very fast.”