Fire north of Durango continues westward expansion

Above: Firefighters on the 416 Fire. Photo uploaded to Inciweb around June 9, 2018. Photographer unknown.

(UPDATED at 7:03 a.m. MDT June 13, 2018)

Most of the spread of the 416 Fire north of Durango, Colorado Tuesday and Tuesday night was on the west side where it continues to grow onto the higher slopes in terrain that becomes increasingly difficult for ground-based firefighters. The fire ate up about 1,500 acres to bring the total to 25,900 acres.

It was announced Tuesday night that  the evacuation order for residents in San Juan County will lift at 8 a.m. on June 13. Residents will need to present a Rapid Tag resident credentials to return. The residences in San Juan County will remain on pre-evacuation notice.

map 416 fire colorado wildfire
The red lines indicate the perimeters of the 416 and Burro Fires at 10:51 p.m. June 12, 2018. The yellow line was the perimeter about 24 hours before.

Resources on the 416 Fire include 9 Type 1 hand crews, 14 Type 2 hand crews, 55 engines, 3 dozers, and 4 water tenders for a total of 1,028 personnel. There are 203 personnel on the Burro Fire.

There was very little growth or activity on the Burro Fire Tuesday.

Fire management authorities are not releasing the cause of either fire.


(Originally published at 12:12 p.m. MDT June 12, 2018)

The wildfire with the odd name, “416”, continues to be very active especially on the west side. Over the past two days it has grown two miles closer to Durango, Colorado on the south side and is now seven miles from the north edge of the city, covering a total of 23,378 acres.

The west side of the 416 Fire has been the location of most of the activity recently where it has spread seven miles west of Highway 550 and to within six miles of another blaze, the 2,337-acre Burro Fire.

412 fire burro colorado wildfire
A 3-D map looking northwest showing the fires north and northwest of Durango, Colorado. The red line around the 416 Fire was the perimeter at 10:12 a.m. MDT June 11. The yellow line was the perimeter two days earlier. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 2:13 a.m. June 12.

The west side of the 416 Fire is burning at over 8,000 feet in terrain that is difficult for ground resources. An 11,000 foot ridge separates the two fires and in normal times should serve as a barrier preventing them from merging, but the way wildfires have been behaving in recent years is anything but “normal”.

Todd Pechota’s Type 1 Incident Management Team is handling both fires.

The weather forecast for the fire area through Thursday calls for south and southwest winds of less than 10 mph, temperatures in the low 80’s, and 9 to 12 percent relative humidity. Beginning Thursday there is a chance of thunderstorms.

map burro fire 416 wildfires
Map showing the fires north and northwest of Durango, Colorado. The red line around the 416 Fire was the perimeter at 10:12 p.m. MDT June 11. The yellow line was the perimeter two days earlier. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 2:13 a.m. June 12.
trail mountain fire badger creek 416
Satellite photo at 6:42 p.m. MDT June 11, 2018, showing the Trail Mountain Fire, Badger Creek Fire, and the 416 Fire.

Firefighters on Burro Fire make stand at Redington Pass Road

On the map of the Burro Fire, above, the red and brown squares on the north and southeast sides indicate new growth Tuesday and Tuesday night. The red line was the perimeter early Tuesday morning. The white line shows where it was early Monday morning.

(Originally published at 10:10 a.m. MDT July 5, 2017)

Firefighters battling the Burro Fire northeast of Tucson, Arizona were also fighting extreme heat again Tuesday. On the southeast side of the fire they successfully kept the fire north of Redington Pass Road and protected ranch buildings in the area.

On the northeast side steep, rugged terrain and a lack of roads means directly confronting the fire will be very difficult, at best. For now they will rely mainly on air resources to slow the fire’s progress in this area. Contingency plans are in place, should fire activity become a threat to infrastructure or other resources.

The Incident Management Team said Wednesday morning the fire had been mapped at 23,238 acres, growth of more than 4,000 acres from the day before.

Resources assigned to the fire include 594 total personal, 14 hand crews, 33 engines, 19 water tenders and 7 helicopters. The number of air tankers varies throughout the day.

Evacuations are still in effect along the Catalina Highway from Mile Marker 0, north including Summerhaven.

The weather forecast for Wednesday at the 4,000-foot level on the Redington Pass Road where firefighters are presently working predicts 102 degrees, 12 percent relative humidity, and northwest winds at 12 mph gusting to 17.

Check out this 57-second video of Fire Behavior Analyst Stewart Turner describing the expected fire activity for Wednesday.

In the video below, I don’t know about a “storm”, but the Burro Fire, like many rapidly spreading intense fires, did create a pyrocumulus cloud (in the left part of the image).

Burro Fire near Tucson grows to over 19,000 acres

Above: Map of the perimeter of the Burro Fire. The red line was current at 11 pm MDT July 3, 2017. The white line was from 26 hours earlier.

(Originally published at 8:15 a.m. MDT July 4, 2017)
(Updated at 10:06 a.m. MDT July 4, 2017)

The Burro Fire on Monday expanded by another 7,770 acres to bring the total area burned up to 19,057 acres. It grew on the north side by about 1.5 miles and by 2. 5 miles on the south, but on the west side it is not much closer to the Catalina (Mt. Lemmon) Highway than it was Monday morning and is still more than a mile away. It is still about four miles from the northeastern outskirts of Tucson.

Firefighters are working on indirect firelines and protecting structures along the Catalina (Mt. Lemmon) Highway on the west side. On the south firefighters continued preparations along Redington Pass Road in case they need to protect or fire out from the road. Natural barriers are also being used to aid in suppression efforts.

map Burro Fire Tucson Arizona
A 3-D map of the perimeter of the Burro Fire looking southwest. The red line was current at 11pm MDT July 3, 2017. The white line was from 26 hours earlier.

On the lower slopes the fire is burning in tall grass and brush, with Ponderosa Pine and mixed conifer at the higher elevations. The fire covers an area ranging from 3,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level.

Airtankers and helicopters were used Monday to help delay the fire’s spread. With the high temperatures expected on Tuesday, the use of aircraft may be limited if it becomes too hot to fly as the density altitude becomes a problem.

The temperatures Tuesday will vary widely with the elevation. At 4,000′ the temperature should reach 100 degrees in mid-afternoon with 14 percent relative humidity and 10 mph winds out of the northwest gusting to 17. Higher up the mountain at 7,600′ the high will be 81, with 22 percent relative humidity and northwest winds at 10 with gusts to 15. Similar conditions are in the forecast for the rest of this week.

There is a chance of isolated thunderstorms Tuesday which could bring troublesome strong, erratic winds.

map Burro Fire Tucson Arizona
Map of the perimeter of the Burro Fire. The red line was current at 11pm MDT July 3, 2017. The white line was from 26 hours earlier.

An evacuation order is in effect for all residents along the Catalina (Mt. Lemmon) Highway from Mile Marker 0, to Summer Haven. The highway is closed. No public, including residents, will be allowed access into the area. The Redington Pass Road is closed between Mile Marker 2 and 14.

Three large wildfires in Southeast Arizona continue to spread

Above: Map showing three large wildfires in Southeast Arizona, July 2, 2017:  Burro, Frye, and Hilltop fires.

(Originally published at 9:38 a.m. MDT July 3, 2017)

Much of the wildfire activity in the United States over the last several weeks has occurred in Arizona. Currently there are three large fires in the southeast part of the state:

Frye Fire — This 45,000-acre fire is burning on the steep slopes of Mt. Graham in the Pinaleno Mountain Range in a wilderness area southwest of Safford. It is a limited suppression incident.

Burro Fire –Six miles northeast of the outskirts of Tucson. Evacuations are occurring. We have more information about this 14,000-acre fire here.

Hilltop Fire — This 8,600-acre fire 27 miles northeast of Globe has been burning since June 25. It is on the San Carlos Apache Reservation and is threatening timber, cultural resources, recreation areas, and wildlife habitat.

Burro fire near Tucson closes road to Mt. Lemmon

Above: 3-D map of the Burro Fire showing the perimeter at 8:30 p.m. MDT July 2, 2017. Looking southwest.

(Originally published at 8:20 a.m. MDT July 3, 2017.)

The Burro Fire is causing evacuations near Tucson, Arizona in the Mt. Lemmon area. The fire was reported June 30 on the southeast side of Mt. Lemmon in the foothills of Redington Pass and as of 8:30 p.m. MDT on Sunday had spread for six miles to within a mile of the Mt. Lemmon Highway. At that time it had burned about 11,300 acres according to an overnight mapping flight, which is an increase of over 6,000 acres from the last estimate. Monday morning the Incident Management Team estimated it had grown to about 14,000 acres.

The Burro Fire is 6 miles northeast of the outskirts of Tucson and 20 miles east of Interstate 10.

Burro Fire Mt Lemmon Tucson Arizona June 2, 2017
Burro Fire, July 2, 2017. Inciweb photo.

The Pima County Office of Emergency Management’s notices on their Facebook page are a little vague about what areas are being evacuated and when, but a news release from the Incident Management team said Summerhaven is being evacuated as well as the Mt. Lemmon Highway from Mile Marker 0 up to Palisades Road. Other locations are on a pre-evacuation notice. Residents can call 928-351-7537 for more information.

Map Burro Fire
Map of the Burro Fire, showing the perimeter at 8:30 p.m. MDT July 2, 2017.