5 Colorado wildfires burn in southwest

Five Ongoing Colorado Wildfires Engulf 5,200 Acres in the Southwest

Southwestern Colorado faces a major crisis, with five distinct lightning-sparked fires burning over 5,200 acres. The fires have rapidly expanded, causing concerns over air quality, and stressing the firefighting teams. The situation remains dynamic, with hopes of rain combating the very real threat of further intensification.

Little Mesa Fire: A Complex Battle

The Little Mesa fire has grown to 414 acres in the pinon, juniper, and sage forest southwest of Delta on the Dominguez Escalante National Conservation Area. The intensity of the flames, combined with difficult terrain, has necessitated a “contain and confine” strategy by the federal Bureau of Land Management. The lack of direct suppression reveals the complicated nature of this fire, where safety must be the priority.

Air Quality Concerns: A Widespread Threat

Colorado’s Department of Public Health and the Environment has extended air quality health alerts around Gunnison and in Archuleta, Mineral, and Hinsdale counties west of the San Luis Valley. The smoke from the fires is leading to residents and visitors being advised to stay indoors, highlighting the broader health implications of these wildfires.

Quartz Ridge and Bear Creek Fires: Remote Challenges

The Quartz Ridge and Bear Creek fires present unique challenges due to their remote locations. The Quartz Ridge fire, inside the South San Juan Wilderness, has expanded to 1,225 acres. The Bear Creek fire, 23 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs, has grown to 330 acres. Steepness, heavy dead, and fallen trees have forced firefighters to back off, despite full suppression orders. The geographical challenges underscore the complexity of managing these fires.

Lowline and Dry Lake Fires: Progress Amid Uncertainty

North of Gunnison, the Lowline fire covers 1,871 acres and is 55% contained. The Dry Lake fire, near Bayfield, has burned 1,372 acres but is 65% contained. While progress has been made, the uncertainty of weather conditions and the fires’ behaviors demonstrate the ongoing risk.

Lessons: In-Depth Wildfire Prevention and Safety Tips

With Colorado’s wildfire situation escalating, it is paramount to emphasize prevention and safety. The following detailed lessons offer guidance:

  1. Follow Local Regulations: Adherence to fire bans and restrictions is vital. Local authorities have the best understanding of current risks.
  2. Dispose of Cigarettes Properly: Ensure that cigarettes are fully extinguished and placed in appropriate containers.
  3. Responsible Campfire Maintenance: Keep campfires small, never leave them unattended, and extinguish them completely.
  4. Emergency Reporting: Report any unattended or uncontrolled fires to emergency services promptly.
  5. Home Safety Precautions: Create defensible spaces around homes by clearing flammable vegetation, using fire-resistant materials, and maintaining emergency supplies.


These comprehensive tips reinforce the importance of individual and collective responsibility in the face of the wildfire crisis.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

Enjoy this Article? Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Join 4,000+ other subscribers and receive mountain news updates, route guides, gear reviews, and other articles in our twice-monthly email newsletter.

One Response

  1. I’m shocked and heartbroken by this article on the five ongoing Colorado wildfires that engulf 5,200 acres in the southwest. I can’t imagine the pain and suffering that the residents of southwest Colorado are going through right now. I pray that southwest Colorado will be safe and that the fires will be extinguished as soon as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

Learn more about how we protect public lands and prevent SAR calls through education & advocacy.

Join 5K Subscribers!

Get the latest mountain news, hear about training opportunities and gear discounts, receive new resources, and learn to advocate for public lands as a Next Summit Newsletter subscriber.

Don't Miss the Latest Mountain News!

Receive an email update every other Sunday with news on the mountains of the west: rescues, wildlife, 14ers, and more.

Your privacy is important to us: We keep our subscribers’ data 100% secure.

14er Planner

Download my Colorado 14ers Planner for Your Next Summit!

Become a subscriber and download my spreadsheet planner with all 58 peaks listed in the best order to climb them.

We keep your data secure; Unsubscribe anytime at the bottom of our emails.

14er Planner

Download my Colorado 14ers Planner for Your Next Summit!

Become a newsletter subscriber and get my free spreadsheet planner with all 58 peaks in the perfect order to climb them.

We keep your data secure; Unsubscribe anytime at the bottom of our emails.