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Little Sand Fire burns to 77 acres, is being managed

A fire in the Piedra area that started from lightning on May 13 had grown to about 77 acres by late morning Wednesday.

The Little Sand Fire, located approximately 14 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs, was sparked by lightning on May 13, but is being allowed to continue burning in a defined area for the benefit of the natural resources.

Steve Hentschel, fire management officer with the U.S. Forest Service, Pagosa Ranger District, said the fire started in an area that, “was designated to allow fire to play its natural role in the ecosystem.”

The fire is located near the south end of Sand Bench, east of the Piedra Area and west of Sally’s Overlook. The burn area is visible from Deadman’s Curve on Piedra Road.

Hentschel said most wilderness areas and areas closely associated with wilderness areas are allowed to burn naturally while being monitored.

The Little Sand Fire, “has about thirty-six thousand acres of area we’ll let it work in,” Hetschel said.

A Tuesday press release stated that the fire was moving up slope and up canyon, through heavy dead and downed fuels.

Hentschel said about 35 percent of the burn area is dead and downed fuels.

While the fire burns in these areas, the Lower Weminuche Trail (595) and Little Sand Trail (591) have been closed. Signs are posted in the area warning of the closures and smoke.

And while the burn is up to 77 acres, not all of the smoke and haze in Pagosa Springs is from the burn, Hentschel said, though it may be contributing.

The area is also receiving regional haze from fires in Arizona.

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