A crew has controlled a small wildfire burning on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in southwestern Archuleta County.
Lightning started the Torch Fire on Wednesday on a mesa one mile north of County Road 500 between Trail and Coal Mine canyons, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs is managing it, according to the Durango Interagency Dispatch Center.
An usually wet spring has made it safe for firefighters to let the fire burn and manage its path, the statement said.
“These conditions afford us the opportunity to allow a fire to burn, rather than immediately suppressing it,”said Rich Gustafson, BIA fire management officer.
The area needs to burn because the mesa top is dotted with large old-growth ponderosa pine with an understory of Gambel oak. Juniper is encroaching under the pine, and there are a number of large dead trees on the ground. Burning the understory of the forest will make it more resilient, the statement said.
About 25 firefighters are working the fire, and they do not plan to allow the fire to move into the piñon-juniper forest on the south end of the mesa.
The fire was 12 acres by the end of the day Thursday.
Gustafson estimates the fire could consume between 20 and 60 acres, depending on when and if the fire receives any moisture.