Firefighters are using a full suppression indirect strategy for the Plateau Fire and West Guard Fires

The two lightning caused fires are burning approximately 13 miles apart.

The Plateau Fire was called in Sunday afternoon July 22nd by a citizen who spotted smoke near Salter Y.   The fire is burning in the Plateau canyon in steep rugged terrain in a mixed conifer fuel type.  The fire is currently approximately 1000 acres and is located about 14 miles north northeast of the town of Dolores within Dolores County.  Fire activity has been moderate and is expected to remain moderate over the next 2-3 days.  There is no private land in the burn area.  In order to secure the perimeter with private lands north of the Plateau fire, ignitions were conducted Saturday and yesterday to prevent the fire from burning out of the canyons, to minimize disturbance and to use existing roads as control lines. 

The side canyons are in danger of coming into alignment from a fire behavior standpoint.  Drainages are aligned with the predominant winds for the area, are in alignment with regard to the driest slope aspect (South and West), and due to fuel loading, could pose a significant risk if fuels above them weren’t removed prior to the alignment occurring.  Ignitions occur at a time that pose the least risk from a fire behavior standpoint, e.g. the times when temperatures are lower, humidity is higher, and winds are calmer.  There is a small pocket of unburned fuel in between the canyon and Forest Service Road 524 that will be burned out today.

The West Guard Fire was discovered by a helicopter working the Plateau Fire on July 22nd.  The fire is currently 1405 acres.  Burnout operations were successful, fire activity is minimal with creeping and smoldering.  Firefighters are mopping up, monitoring and falling hazard trees along roads. 

Between both fires there are 80 personnel committed from multiple agencies.  Equipment includes 5 engines, 1 water tender, 1 helicopter, 1 masticator and 1 skidgeon (a cross between a bulldozer and a fire engine).

For the safety of the public and to be able to conduct operations safely, there have been closures of roads FSR 523, 523A, 247, 524, 524B, 238, 238A, and 525B.   Areas closed are south of FSR 514, bounded by and including FSR 523 and all lands east of FSR 523 and south to the rim above McPhee reservoir, bounded by and including FSR 525, 238 and 238A south to the McPhee Reservoir/Beaver Creek Rim.  FSR 514 remains open and access to the lake shore from McPhee Reservoir at the south end of the closure area is allowed.  

As the fire and burnouts progress, smoke is expected to be visible at McPhee Reservoir, Salter Y and along Forest Road 514, Dolores River overlook and Dove Creek.  There is a chance smoke may settle in at night in the town of Dolores, Dolores River canyon near the overlook and the surrounding area.

To report a new fire on federal lands please contact the Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch Center at (970) 385-1324.

For more information, contact the Dolores Ranger District at (970) 882-7296.

-USDA-

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sanjuan/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD589474