FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 05, 2018 at 10:05 a.m.
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Firefighters responded to several reports of smoke in the southeast corner of the Southern Ute Reservation on the afternoon of June 4, 2018. Four fires were located and resources attacking the fires included hand crews, engines, a heavy air tanker, a single engine air tanker (SEAT) and a Type 3 helicopter. The aircraft focused on the largest fire, called the Montezuma Creek Fire, due to the steep and rugged terrain. Hand crews and engines worked on the three smaller fires and were able to make good progress. The Durango Interagency Type 3 Incident Management Team mobilized at 18:00 to manage the fires, setting up an incident command post and base camp near the fires. According to Incident Commander Rich Gustafson, “Our focus is on containing the existing fires and responding rapidly to new fires.
As of 0600 on June 5, 102 personnel were assigned to the fires, including two engines, three hand crews, one dozer and one Type 3 helicopter. The three smaller fires are less than one acre and are named the Kerns, Madrid, and Round Meadow Fires. The Montezuma Creek fire is estimated at 5-10 acres.
Firefighters will focus on constructing containment lines and suppressing any hot spots. On June 3rd, a lightning storm moved through the area with an estimated 200 lightning strikes hitting the east side of the reservation. With forecasted warm and dry weather combined with critically dry fuel moistures, a reserve force of firefighters will be available for any new fire starts located.