Progress made on area fires


By Randi Pierce | Staff Writer

Containment on a pair of lightning-caused wildfires fires burning within Archuleta County grew over the last week, with the Coal Mine Fire 100 percent contained as of July 7 and the Chris Mountain Fire 92 percent contained as of July 11.

Coal Mine Fire

The Coal Mine Fire, burning 18 miles south of Pagosa Springs, reached 100 percent containment on July 7 at 292 acres. 

The fire was reported on June 28.

The final update on the fire, released July 7, notes the acreage increased from 286 due to more accurate mapping.

It also notes the fire transitioned to a Type 4 team, and “Remaining resources will continue to patrol, monitor, and mop-up the fire.”

Chris Mountain Fire

The Chris Mountain Fire, burning on San Juan National Forest land approximately 12 miles west of Pagosa Springs, was reported at 3 p.m. on June 28.

The fire was reported at 511 acres on July 11.

The fire improved from zero percent containment as of July 5 to 92 percent as of July 11, with the management of the fire transitioning back to the San Juan National Forest at 6 a.m. on July 11.

The final update from the Type 3 Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team Three, sent on July 10, notes that the San Juan National Forest’s June 29 closure order remains in effect “as firefighting resources continue to mop up, patrol and complete suppression repair activities. The forest roads can become congested with heavy equipment, chippers and engines. The public is urged to be cautious outdoors. The potential for new wildfires to start with active fire growth will increase as the vegetation continues to dry out with warmer day time temperatures.”

It further notes, “The hard work of firefighters on the southern end of the fire has resulted in minimal heat remaining in the uncontained fireline north of Snow Angel Ranch. Crews will stay in the area to patrol ensuring this area is safe.

“A drone with infrared technology is being utilized to assist the crews in their mop up efforts. Very few hotspots were found by the UAV. (Unmanned aerial vehicle). Today, crews will once again work to seek out and contain interior hotspots. Suppression repair will continue, utilizing chipping and excavation equipment. This operation will concentrate on the FS road 681.”

Closure order information is located at

Archuleta County issued mandatory evacuations for Forest Road 628 on June 28. 

“No structures have been lost, but some near the heel of the fire were considered threatened, prompting evacuations,” the fire’s InciWeb page states.