A coal seam fire discovered in October north of Dolores has been extinguished, but another one along a steep ledge was discovered a few miles west, according to the San Juan National Forest.
The newest fire is being monitored but is much less accessible, said Dolores District Ranger Derek Padilla.
To extinguish the first fire, crews excavated the area with heavy equipment for several days in late May, then added water and a foam fire retardant, Padilla said.
When there was no more smoke, the excavated coal seam was filled back in with soil, and the area was brought back to the natural grade.
Mulch and native seeds were added at the site, and grass has emerged.
The fire was located off Forest Road 525 at the head of Beaver Canyon and had been active since summer 2018 when the Plateau Fire occurred. Hidden coal seams sometime ignite after wildfires.
Padilla said the coal seam was part of a historic coal mine. As a result, the Forest Service received funding from the Colorado Division of Reclamation for Mining and Safety to mitigate the fire.
Coal seam fires can be difficult to put out and are often left alone, but monitored. When exposed to the surface, they can trigger wildfires. It was decided to put this one out because of its accessibility and smaller size.