Firefighters will monitor winds as Perins Peak Fire containment work near Durango proceeds

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times

DURANGO – The Perins Peak Fire has been downsized a bit by fire managers, but fire officials say that despite progress made on establishing fire lines and the arrival of two additional hotshot crews they aren’t taking any chances.

"The Perins Peak Fire saw no growth during yesterday’s operational period, and it was mapped at 102 acres," a Thursday morning news release from the Bureau of Land Management Colorado Southwest District said. "Firefighters made good progress working with multiple single engine airtankers and helicopters to construct and secure fireline. Engine crews installed a hose lay to the heel of the fire and patrolled the Rockwood neighborhood."

Perins Peak Public Meeting, May 25, 2022

Fire officials said in an online update Wednesday night that evacuation orders remain in effect despite the fact the fire did not spread.

The fire began Tuesday afternoon two miles west of Durango on Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Parks and Wildlife lands and quickly spread to what was first estimated at 105 acres.

More:Perins Peak Fire northwest of Durango has charred 100 acres; pre-evacuation plans posted

UPDATE: Perins Peak Fire northwest of Durango reaches 36% containment Thursday evening

No cause has yet been determined.

“The cause of the fire is under investigation and is suspected to be a human-caused ignition," a Bureau of Land Management news release stated Wednesday.

Fire managers said the fire can only be reached on foot.

"Hot shot crews hiked into the fire early this morning to continue line construction," the BLM news release said. "Heavy aircraft usage will continue today as crews work to secure the fireline prior to the incoming Red Flag conditions. Fire managers expect to show some containment on the incident by the end of shift today."

A Chinook helicopter drops water on the Perins Peak Fire. Red streaks of retardant from air tankers line the fire's flanks in a photo released by the Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch on their Facebook page May 25.

“The #PerinsPeakFire saw no growth today, and has been mapped at 100 acres,” fire managers said in Wednesday night's online update.  

“Ground crews made progress putting in direct containment line with support of helicopters and single engine air tankers,” the release said.

On Thursday morning Operations Section Chief Brad Pietruszka announced the arrival or two new hotshot crews and said they would be flown up the mountain to work on fire lines while others made their way to the fire site from below.

"No growth overnight, things are looking really mellow out here," Pietruszka said in a video update posted to the Durango Fire & Rescue Facebook page Thursday morning.

Fire managers said the threat of the blaze becoming more active “still exists as a result of heavy, dry fuels and continued dry weather.”

More:Fire restrictions to go into effect soon on Navajo Nation

Perins Peak Fire northwest of Durango has charred 100 acres; pre-evacuation plans posted

On Wednesday crews reported on the Inciweb site there was “moderate fire behavior with uphill runs and some short-range spotting.”

Information posted on the Inciweb site also indicates that winds may be a factor Thursday and beyond.

“Winds begin shifting to southwest and increasing (Thursday),” fire managers said when assessing the fire's outlook. They said a fire weather watch was "issued for Friday/Saturday, potentially through the weekend and into early next week for low humidity and strong southwest winds.”

Fire managers projected that winds will next begin shifting westward, “which will test control lines on the east flank of the fire. Significant shale outcrops exist which will slow spread of the fire to the east.”

Trails closed, drones banned and pre-evacuation orders still in effect for Perins Peak Fire

Pre-evacuation orders established Tuesday when the fire was rapidly spreading are still in place, fire officials said.

Areas affected are:

•  County Road 208 and the Dry Fork and Rock Ridge subdivisions

• County Road 206 to Highway 160.

Go to the La Plata County website or call 970-385-8700 for additional information.  Authorities on Tuesday advised people to go to https://tinyurl.com/bdcv9s6a to find a map and information on pre-evacuations.

Are there fires near me? Track burning Colorado, New Mexico smoke and wildfires on this map.

Fire managers reminded the public that Durango‘s city government has closed access to the Overend Mountain Park and Twin Buttes trails to allow emergency workers to have unfettered access if needed. The existing seasonal closure of Colorado Parks and Wildlife - Durango Perins Peak State Wildlife Area is also in effect.

“USDA Forest Service - San Juan National Forest Junction Creek Campground remains open and outside of the pre-evacuation area,” the release said.

They also noted that the fire scene is a no-fly area for drones, which interfere with aerial firefighting operations.

The InciWeb site’s fire map is available to the public for regular updates on  wildfires at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8120/

Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at jmoses@daily-times.com.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e