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Five small blazes: fire danger high

Several small fires in Archuleta County were quelled last week, indicating fire danger is an active concern in the area.

A number of area agencies responded to at least five fires between June 25 and July 6, as well as responding to numerous smoke reports.

“Over the Fourth of July weekend we had a number of small fires that had a lot of potential,” said Drew Petersen, Archuleta County director of emergency management.

Petersen reported that Pagosa Fire Protection District, Los Pinos Fire Protection District, Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office Department of Emergency Management, Southern Ute Indian Tribe and San Juan Public Lands personnel responded to the fires, which occurred on a mix of private, public and tribal lands.

The first of the fires, the Fosset Gulch fire, began on June 25 and burned half an acre.

A fire near Pagosa Junction on tribal land on June 30 burned approximately 1.5 acres.

A fire near Cat Creek reached two acres in size, also on June 30.

The most visible of the fires reached only .25 acres in size, but occurred in Martinez Canyon, with smoke visible in the Pagosa Lakes population core.

Another blaze near Pagosa Junction, the Chavez fire, burned four acres and at one point jumped the San Juan River. The fire was also near a fire in New Mexico.

In addition to the fires listed above, Petersen said the agencies responded to numerous smoke reports, many of which stemmed from New Mexico fires from which smoke made its way to Pagosa Country.

With lightning storms becoming increasingly common in the afternoons as summer progresses, some area agencies are increasing the number of local resources to be ready in case of fires.

Petersen said that, during one recent storm, 72 lightning strikes were recorded in the area of Eight Mile Mesa, Loma Linda and Burns Canyon, and he warned of high fire danger when lightning occurs in proximity to dry fuels and vegetation.

Stage one fire restrictions remain in place for Archuleta County areas west of U.S. 160 and south of U.S. 84.

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