Forest fires char 7,900 acres northwest of Durango |

Forest fires char 7,900 acres northwest of Durango

DOVE CREEK, Colo. – More than 200 firefighters are working two forest fires in the southwest corner of the state, about 12 miles southeast of Dove Creek along the Dolores River.

The largest, the Narraguinnep fire, has burned roughly 4,700 acres of forest and scrub land since it was started by lightning Friday afternoon, said Pam Wilson, information officer for the interagency Durango Fire Dispatch Office.

Only a few structures are threatened – fishing camps and cow camps used by cattle ranchers. No residences or villages are threatened, she said.

“It’s a fairly remote area of mostly pine, brushy and grassy areas,” she said. “Several stands of old-growth pinon have been burned.

Firefighters were aided by two helicopters dropping retardant.

Heavy smoke blanketed much of southwestern Colorado. Wilson said it may take until mid-week before the fire is contained.

A smaller fire, about 5 miles to the south, began burning a week ago when lightning struck trees. The Bradfield Bridge fire has consumed roughly 3,200 acres. Firefighters are allowing it to burn under a contained/confined strategy, which allows the fire to burn out the undergrowth without damaging the tall trees.

“This removes the heavy fuels for any future fires in the area,” she said.

No structures have been threatened by this fire.

Wilson said crews are keeping the fire from burning along drainages leading to the Delores River and downstream to McPhee Reservoir.

She said the two blazes are the first major fires of the summer in the Durango area. “We’ve been able to catch a number of smaller fires before they became a problem,” she said.

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