Containment increasing on trio of area fires, hazardous weather outlook in effect

Progress continues to be made on three area fires, but a hazardous weather outlook is in effect, forecasting critical fire weather conditions in the coming days.

According to a Sunday, May 27, update from La Plata County, the 358 Fire, which is burning near Durango and Bayfield, was 95 percent contained and local crews were slated to take over command of the fire yesterday, May 28. A separate May 27 update stated that pre-evacuation notices and the evacuation had been lifted. As of May 26, the fire was estimated at 51 acres in size. It began on private land before burning onto land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

An evening update released yesterday evening, May 28, by the Rio Grande National Forest reveals that the Park Creek Fire near South Fork is 80 percent contained and is estimated to have burned 60 acres. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and additional fire crews were anticipated to be released today.

The Arena Canyon Fire, burning 5 miles south of the Colorado/New Mexico border, was 40 percent contained as of May 27, according to New Mexico Fire Information. The fire, which was caused by lightning and is burning on private and BLM lands, has burned an estimated 128 acres. The Cottonwood Day Use Area at Navajo Lake State Park remains closed, with the area serving as the command post for the fire.

Hazardous weather outlook in effect

A hazardous weather outlook put into place this morning by the National Weather Service (NWS) shows that “scattered to numerous thunderstorms are possible across the mountains of eastern Utah and western Colorado beginning late this morning, continuing into the evening. Thunderstorms will generate strong outflow winds with little to no rain.”

Further, for Wednesday through Monday, the outlook calls for a chance for the thunderstorms to linger Wednesday, with the main threats being “gusty outflow winds and lightning with little rain.”

“Critical fire weather conditions could develop Thursday with a lesser chance Friday due to gusty southwesterly winds, low relative humidities, warmer temperatures and dry vegetation,” the outlook states.

The NWS forecast for the next several days is calling for temperatures ranging from the mid-70s into the 80s.

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This story was posted on May 29, 2018.