Seventy-five firefighters today continue to battle hot spots in the 213 Fire, which erupted Sunday afternoon along La Posta Road (County Road 213).
The fire didn’t grow after 9 p.m. Sunday, but it continued to burn among cottonwoods on both sides of the Animas River. The fire covers an estimated 38 acres.
No homes were burned and no homes are currently evacuated, but 24 homeowners were asked to leave their homes Sunday afternoon.
La Posta Road is open to traffic, but motorists are asked to drive with caution because of smoke.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Durango Fire Protection District Fire Marshall Karola Hanks was scheduled to meet a federal fire investigator on scene Monday morning.
Two Juniper Valley hand crews are en route to increase the number of firefighters by 40, a release from La Plata County said.
La Posta Road (County Road 213) was reopened about 9:30 p.m. Sunday after it had been closed south of the 4400 block and north of the 3800 block at around 4:15 p.m.
“It has potential for growth,” said Dave Imming, public-information officer working with the Durango Fire Protection District.
The fire reached the bottoms of both sides of the Animas River, he said.
DFPD initially initiated reverse 911 to 11 homes. La Plata County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Southern Ute Ranger crews arrived and contacted an additional 13 homes to request evacuation.
Hanks said homeowners were only under a voluntary evacuation, and they were not required by fire authorities to leave their homes.
Hanks believes the fire started about 70 yards off of County Road 213 near mile marker 4 south of Durango. The fire then spread south along the river bottom, and even briefly crossed to the west side of the county road.
Fire crews did start a back-burn to kill fuels in one area of the fire, Hanks said.
“We’re still trying to get a handle on it,” she said.
Firefighters were setting up to protect nearby buildings. Natural-gas wells are also in the area, and Imming said firefighters were in contact with several companies to protect wells on compressor stations in the area.
Although La Posta Road has reopened, Hanks cautioned that heavy smoke can reduce visibility for drivers.
The fire is under the command of the Southern Ute Agency Fire Management Division.
“It’s the end of March, and the snowpack in the San Juans is 54 percent of normal. We haven’t had moisture, and you compound that with a lot of dry years, and so things are pretty dry right now,” Hanks said.