According to MIFMU Public Information Officer Lee Anne Loupe, the two fires that are still burning are located on Bureau of Land Management lands. Close to 48 acres in size, the Buckhorn Road Fire is located 3.5 miles east of Colona and is burning pinion-juniper vegetation with a 30-acre area of dense, downed woody fuels that is surrounded by previous roller-chop fuel mitigation in the vicinity. This fire is not a threat to structures or private lands and is being managed by six fire personnel and two engines.
On Sunday, firefighters reinforced the fuel break between BLM and private lands with resulting smoke from the fire dense at times. On Monday, the fire was naturally suppressed with moisture and was relatively quiet, according to Loupe. There are approximately 91 acres of land fire officials desire to treat in the area with a maximum potential to treat 400 acres of land.
Drivers in the area are encouraged to be aware of the potential for smoke along Hwy. 550 and adjacent landowners have been notified to be aware of the ongoing management efforts to reduce fuel loading and provide habitat improvements in the Buckhorn Road Fire area.
At 42 acres in size, the Lion Creek Fire is located west of Paradox in the west end of MIFMU’s protection zone. Burning pinion-juniper and oak brush, there are no private lands or structures threatened, and it is being managed by six fire crew members and two engines. There are approximately 1,000 acres desired in the area for fuel treatment from the fire with a maximum treatment area of 7,100 acres. MIFMU resources are maintaining communication with the adjacent Manti-La Sal National Forest and several contractors working in the area of the Lion Creek Fire.
While every fire must be assessed individually, Loupe said the recent fires and their circumstances have allowed for some beneficial fuel reduction and habitat improving burns. In MIFMU’s region, six fires were sparked by lightning last week with another five being sparked early this week. Besides the Lion Creek Fire and the Buckhorn Road Fire, all others have been suppressed or are nearly suppressed.
“We have to manage what resource threats are out there and whether we need to immediately suppress a fire or allow it to burn to achieve management objectives,” Loupe said on Tuesday. “We take a lot of things into consideration before making that decision and in the case of the two burning right now, it is resulting in some great opportunities to reduce fuel loading and to create habitat.”
For the MIFMU, it has been a dynamic summer in terms of weather conditions. Loupe said the summer started with very hot and dry conditions with lightning starting fires “quite early” in the season. Then the region was doused with moisture and is now coming out of the monsoon affect.
As for the current conditions to reduce fuels with naturally ignited fires, Loupe said, “it has been cooperating.”
The Montrose Interagency Fire Management Unit covers the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests, the Gunnison Field Office (BLM), Currecanti National Recreation Area, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the Uncompahgre Field Office (BLM), and public lands in Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel, Hinsdale, Gunnison, and Delta counties.
For the latest information on wildfires and fire restrictions in the area, call the MIFMU Fire Information line at 970/874-6602 or visit the MIFMU website www.rmcc/dispatch_centers/r2mtc/). Anyone interested can also follow MIFMU on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MIFMU.