BONDAD – Firefighters spent the night mopping up hot spots in the 213 Fire along La Posta Road west of Bondad Hill and will continue the effort Tuesday morning, said Sarah Jacobson, spokeswoman for La Plata County
Jacobson said 130 firefighters from the Durango Fire Protection District, Los Pino Fire Department, Upper Pine Fire Protection Distsrict, Ute Mountain Ute Agency, the Bureau of Land Management, the San Juan National Forest and two Juniper Valley hand crews are on the fire.
“They’re hitting it hot and heavy because we expect winds gusting up to 45 mph around 1 o’clock,” Jacobson said.
The size of the fire, which began Sunday afternoon, remains at 60 acres, Jacobon said. It is 40 percent contained. The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.
No homes are under pre-evacuation notice and no homes damaged or destoyedk, Jacobson said.
Firefighters on Monday halted the spread of the 213 Fire west of Bondad Hill after flames jumped containment lines at midday.
Wind pushed the fire north-northwest around noon, but engine crews were able to stop its spread, said Howard Richards Jr., a forester with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Southern Ute Agency.
“We got a spot across the line into some grass,” Richards said. “It kept spotting ahead of itself, but they kept chasing it down with the engines.”
The Southern Ute Agency is in command of the incident because the fire is on Southern Ute land.
Winds were swirling Monday at the fire’s site along the Animas River, he said; the wind died down later in the afternoon, calming the fire activity.
“Things are looking better right now,” Richards said.
“Unfortunately, Tuesday is a red-flag warning day, so we’re expecting gusty winds,” said Fire Marshall Karola Hanks of the Durango Fire Protection District. “I also canceled all burning permits for Monday afternoon, not because it was a red-flag day, but because we just wouldn’t have the personnel to fight another fire out of control.”
Crews are prepared to be diligent to keep the fire from spreading Tuesday, according to a news release from La Plata County.
DFPD crews were stationed at houses near the fire to protect homes in case of flare-ups. The call for structure protection was a preventive move, Hanks said.
The 213 Fire – named after the county road near where the fire started – began Sunday afternoon. On Monday, a Durango-based San Juan Hotshots crew with 13 members arrived to fight the fire, as did two 20-person inmate crews from Juniper Valley and Cañon City, Richards said.
In addition to the agencies already mentioned, firefighters from the Los Pinos Fire Protection District, Bureau of Land Management and Ute Mountain Ute Agency Fire were at the scene.
The fire is being fought on the ground; no aviation resources were assigned to the fire.
“It’s high ground all the way around, so we can look down on it,” Hanks said. “Water runs down hill.”
Officials have not revealed the fire’s cause, saying it’s still under investigation. Shawn Cave, a U.S. Forest Service law-enforcement officer, examined the origin site Monday along the west bank of the Animas River. Small flags on scorched ground showed where the fire started. Cave said he could not discuss his investigation until it’s complete.
Most of the fire’s new growth Monday occurred on the river’s east side. The fire jumped the river Sunday evening.
No homes have burned, but 24 homeowners were asked to voluntarily leave Sunday afternoon. They were allowed to return Monday under a pre-evacuation notice, and the notice was lifted at 7 p.m. Monday.
As a precaution, buses carrying Durango School District 9-R students home Monday along La Posta Road turned back to their respective schools where parents would have to pick them up.
The fire was smoldering among cottonwoods on both sides of the Animas River.
La Posta Road (County Road 213) is open to traffic, but drivers are asked to drive with caution because of smoke and fire equipment and personnel in the area.
Firefighters were using the DFPD’s Station 11 at Bondad as the incident command post.