Story & Photos by Owen Woods | email@example.com
FIREFIGHTERS aided by air tankers were working hard Sunday to keep a Rio Grande National Forest fire in steep terrain just outside the community of Fox Creek in Conejos Canyon from spreading beyond the 197 acres already scorched.
As the winds calmed down Saturday evening into Sunday and after multiple passes from air tankers the fire’s growth slowed, said Gregg Goodland, public affairs officer for the Rio Grande National Forest.
Colorado Highway 17 between Antonito and the New Mexico state line will remain closed through Monday (Memorial Day) morning.
The fire continues to burn but is not spreading significantly.
The fire started around 3 p.m. Saturday on the north side of Highway 17 near the Menkhaven subdivision, about 18 miles west of Antonito, said Goodland. He said he didn’t have information and couldn’t confirm reports that the fire started from a powerline in the area.
Conejos County deputies, Alamosa County deputies, and other emergency responders worked through residential roads and campsites north of the fire and evacuated everyone within. Fire crews from Conejos County, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control, and the Rio Grande National Forest remained on scene. Other Valley-wide fire crews were notified and remained on standby.
Conejos Canyon has remained relatively untouched by pine and spruce beetle kill and is in a green state. This fire has a healthy supply of conifer and aspen fuel in difficult-to-reach terrain. Hotshot crews were ordered to the site and looked to attack the fire from the top of the canyon at the northern firelines.
The evacuation of homes north of Hwy 17 between Horca and Fox Creek remained in effect Sunday. The communities of Horca and Fox Creek have not been ordered to evacuate.
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