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Two Large Wildfires Burning Near Pagosa Springs Colorado

Two Large Wildfires Burning Near Pagosa Springs Colorado

PAGOSA SPRINGS, CO — The Pagosa Ranger District is currently grappling with two significant fires, alongside several smaller blazes. The major fires, dubbed the Quartz Ridge and Bear Creek Fires, have seen significant expansion today. The US Forest Service reported that the San Juan Type 3 Incident Management Team (IMT) assumed command of both significant fires at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, August 8th. For real-time updates on these incidents, an InciWeb page has been created.

The Quartz Ridge Fire, located roughly three miles within the South San Juan Wilderness, has expanded to 558 acres since being detected on August 5th. The towering column of smoke from this fire is clearly visible from Pagosa Springs and nearby areas. Due to the challenges of its remote location, the dangerous topography, and the risks posed by standing dead and fallen trees, firefighters have been unable to engage with the fire directly. 

While it is anticipated that the fire will remain in the secluded parts of the South San Juan Wilderness, the fire management team is strategizing on containment plans should the fire shift to more accessible terrains. Several areas, including the Quartz Meadows Road (NFSR#685), the Quartz Ridge Trail (NFST#570), and the Quartz Creek Trail (NFST#571), are now off-limits to the public due to the fire. Residents and travelers can expect to see the blaze from Pagosa Springs, Bayfield, Durango, US Highway 160, and Colorado Highway 84.

On the other hand, the Bear Creek Fire, burning approximately 2.5 miles west of the Weminuche Valley, now covers about 150 acres since its discovery on August 1st. While initial suppression efforts were made, firefighters had to retreat due to heightened fire behavior and the presence of dangerous dead standing trees. 

Although the firefighting personnel remain close to the fire zone and are closely monitoring its northeast progression, more firefighting resources have been requested and are expected to arrive soon. A few Forest Service Trails, such as the Little Sand Trail (#591) from Mosca Road, Shaw Creek Trail (#584), and Falls Creek Trail (#673), have been closed due to the fire. The blaze remains visible from Pagosa Springs, Bayfield, US Highway 160, and Colorado Highway 84.

For details on fire restrictions, current forest conditions, and recreation activities on the San Juan National Forest, interested individuals can call (970) 247-4874, check the official forest website, or stay updated via the forest’s official Twitter and Facebook pages.

Wildfire Safety and Prevention Tips:

  1. Stay Informed: Monitor local news sources, websites, and social media for updates on fire activity and follow evacuation orders immediately.
  2. Prepare Your Home: Remove dead vegetation from around your home, and keep a defensible space to deter fires.
  3. Have an Evacuation Plan: Know multiple routes out of your neighborhood and have a packed emergency kit ready.
  4. Avoid Outdoor Burning: Refrain from outdoor burning during dry periods or when winds are high.
  5. Dispose of Cigarettes Properly: Do not discard cigarettes on the ground. Use an ashtray or a bucket with sand.
  6. Keep Chainsaws and Equipment in Check: Ensure equipment and vehicles are well-maintained and free of flammable liquids.
  7. Stay Away from Fire Zones: Do not attempt to access areas affected by fires; it can hamper firefighting efforts and put you at risk.

Remember, preventing wildfires is a shared responsibility. Stay safe and make informed decisions.

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.

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