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AZTEC — Winds calmed down on June 18, allowing firefighters to make progress on containing the East Canyon Fire that has been burning in Montezuma and La Plata counties near Mancos, Colorado.

An update from the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Blue Team Type 2 states that the calmer winds allowed crews to make a fire line on the east side of the blaze along Cherry Creek Road.

"Firefighters were able to tie in hand and dozer lines along the southern flank yesterday and brought a dozer line down to the Cherry Creek Road to clean up a ragged edge," the update states.

A hot shot crew began burning out an area leading into Cottonwood Canyon on June 18 and will be finishing up 600 feet of the small burnout operation on June 19.

"Firefighters also located an old two-track road further south which they are prepping as a contingency line if the fire were to escape the upper dozer line," the update continued.

An infrared flight measured the fire's size at 2,860 acres on June 18 and it is currently 17% contained.

The winds are forecasted to come from the west on June 19, prompting firefighters to primarily focus on the south end of the fire. However, crews will be working the entire perimeter.

The winds from the west will help firefighters as they work to pinpoint the unknown heat sources on the north side, according to the update. But, while they will help on the north end of the fire, the incident management team is concerned that the winds from the west could cause problems on the south side in the area of Cottonwood Canyon.

"These winds cause an eddying effect at the mouth of the small canyons coming down off the ridge," the update states. "Hand crews will continue to cut and remove fuel from these areas and burn out ground fuels as needed between the dozer line and the road."

A Red Flag Warning remains in effect until 9 p.m. June 19.

Operations Chief Chris Zoller warned about the changing weather during his morning update that can be viewed on the East Canyon Fire Facebook page.

"We're going to be hotter," he warned. "We're going to be hotter and drier. It's hard to believe that we can get drier cause it's very dry around here, but we're going to see that upward tick in fire weather. So I want to urge you to be cautious with anything out there so we don't have any human-caused ignitions."

Six Shooter Fire at 60% containment

Firefighters also made progress on the Six Shooter Fire, which is burning in the Bondad area north of the state line near U.S. Highway 550.

Crews prevented the fire from growing and it remains at 224 acres. The containment increased to 60%.

A fire weather watch is in effect and dry conditions could lead to fires starting and spreading rapidly.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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