DURANGO – October 16, 2012, 2:20 pm - Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch reports several new wildfires, apparently the result of lightning holdovers from last Friday, when the area received 9,800 ground strikes during a storm that resulted in little moisture. The most active fire at this time is the Vallecito Fire, which is estimated at 40 to 50 acres about one mile west of the southern end of Vallecito Reservoir up Jack Creek in the National Forest. The fire was reported at noon today; its origin is not known but suspected to be lightning that has been smoldering since last week’s storm. About two dozen firefighters from the US Forest Service, Upper Pine and Los Pinos fire districts have responded. A type 3 helicopter is making water drops. Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch has ordered two heavy air tankers, two single engine air tankers, and a type 1 helicopter. No structures threatened at this time, but there is private property is about one mile below the fire. The Jack Fire is believed to be burning within the area burned by the Missionary Ridge Fire of 2002.
In addition, the San Juan National Forest is currently flying a reconnaissance flight north of Durango to check on reports of smoke in the Rockwood and Needleton areas, which are not believed to be coming from the remnants of the Goblin Fire.
Conditions are extremely dry, and with hundreds of hunters heading out for the first rifle season, the U.S. Forest Service reminds those in the backcountry to be extremely careful with fire. Follow these safety tips:
· Clear a campfire site down to bare soil.
· Build a fire ring out of rocks and keep your fire small.
· Build the fire away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, and dry grass.
· Never leave a campfire unattended. It’s important to put it out even at night when you go to bed.
· Keep a bucket of water and a shovel near the campfire.
· When putting a campfire out, drown it with water. Stir the fire with water and dirt until all the fuel is cold to the touch. Never leave a fire until it is out cold.