The Upper Pine River Fire Protection District responded Saturday to two fires that drained resources in the small agency in eastern La Plata County.
Both fires were contained by 4 p.m., said Bruce Evans, chief of Upper Pine fire.
One of the fires started about 1 p.m. along County Road 510, southwest of Bayfield. An ember from a trash fire likely started the blaze, Evans said. Firefighters responded with three engines and two water tankers.
About 45 minutes later, a second fire started along County Road 501, south of Vallecito. The wind-driven fire likely started by a spark from a welder, Evans said.
Each fire burned about 3 acres, Evans said.
“There are still crews on both of the fires,” he said around 4:30 p.m. “We’re expecting a mild cold front tonight and want to make sure everything is out cold – that there’s not potential for embers. All crews are still out mopping up these fires.”
Upper Pine fire requested assistance from the Durango Fire Protection District and the U.S. Forest Service for the Cool Water Ranch fire south of Vallecito. The request for DFPD assistance was ultimately canceled.
Evans said that without the quick response from assisting agencies, there could have been two large fires in the district.
“We had a discussion last week about burn restrictions, and the community decided burn restrictions were not necessary,” Evans said. “The grasses are high, they’ve had frost, so they’re flashy and there are not a lot of resources here.
“These (fires) are probably (caused by) an ember out of a trash pile and a spark off (a) welder’s tool – everything was off and running. We’re lucky we had backup from the Forest Service.”