Small Dolores fire was human-caused

AUTHORITIES are looking for information about this small fire overlooking McPhee Reservoir that burned about 8 acres over the weekend and was started by a person.

A small grass and brush fire that burned on the mesa overlooking McPhee Reservoir over the weekend may have been human-caused and authorities are looking for more information.

Just after 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 6, the Dolores Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to the fire.

The fire burned about eight acres and about eight firefighters from Dolores and a crew from the Dolores Public Lands Department worked on the fire for about three hours.

“It was man caused, but we couldn’t figure what caused it,” said Dolores Fire Chief Mike Zion. “We found some tracks and a pack of cigarettes.”

Dry conditions are making local fire fighters nervous.

“It’s is real dry again. It is as dry as it has ever been,” he said. “The only thing saving us is the shorter, cooler days.” said Zion.

Zion added that they don’t believe the fire near Dolores was set intentionally.

The fire remains under investigation according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fire is being dubbed the Big Bend Fire.

Evidence collected at the scene indicates someone had been in the area driving golf balls, and these people may have information about the start of the fire. Anyone with information about these individuals or about the start of the fire is asked to contact Special Agent Brenda Schultz at 970-385-1311.

The weather forecast calls for widespread mountain showers later this week; this change in the weather pattern, combined with dropping temperatures, is expected to aide firefighter efforts and lower fire danger somewhat. The first rifle hunting season starts this weekend.

Meanwhile, a fire, dubbed the Goblin Fire in the Animas Canyon north of Durango is now estimated at 190 acres, following burn-out operations near the canyon bottom yesterday to steer the fire away from the railroad tracks. The wildfire is burning upslope into the West Needles portion of the Weminuche Wilderness about two miles south of Needleton. It believed to have been started by the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Train last weekend. Four U.S. Forest Service firefighters and eight railroad firefighters are on scene; however, because the fire is burning on rocky and inaccessible slopes, fire managers have determined it is not safe for firefighters to directly engage the fire on the steep terrain. The firefighters are currently responding to a spot fire on the other side of the railroad tracks, and a type 3 helicopter is on standby.