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East Canyon Fire west of Durango estimated to have grown to 2,703 acres

Air Quality Health Advisory in effect in southwestern Colorado
East Canyon Fire_June 14, 2020
Posted at 7:34 AM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 07:24:34-04

A fire west of Durango, called the East Canyon Fire, grew to 2,703 acres by Monday evening.

The fire, which was sparked by lightning on Saturday, is currently burning on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management on the east side of Weber Canyon and the west side of Cherry Creek, according to BLM’s Southwest Colorado Fire and Aviation Management Unit. It was 0% contained as of 8 p.m. Monday.

A few neighborhoods have been evacuated:
· The Elk Springs subdivision at Road 46 and Road G.3 along the east side of Menefee Mountain
· The 1800 block of County Road 105 (just east of Road 46 and Road G.3)
· Cherry Creek Road in La Plata County
· Areas north and south of U.S. Highway 160 from the top of Mancos Hill to the Target Tree Campground

Both sides of Highway 160 from Target Tree Campground to mile marker 66, which is about three miles east of the Highway 160 and County Road 105 intersection, is under pre-evacuation notice. Highway 160 was closed in both directions between Hesperus and Mancos as of 3:30 p.m. Monday.

As of Monday morning, the fire had not damaged any structures, Southwest Fire said. Fire crews are continuing to work to protect structures and communication towers in the area.

Southwest Fire said the fire is mostly burning gamble oak, pinon pine and juniper trees in La Plata County and Montezuma County.

Around 6:30 p.m. Sunday, fire crews estimated the blaze was about 200 acres. As of 11 p.m. Sunday, it had reached about 900 acres. By Monday evening, officials said it had grown to 2,703 acres.

Due to the extreme drought facing southwest Colorado, fire managers have been requesting extra resources for several weeks so they're able to respond to blazes faster, according to Southwest Fire.

READ MORE: How will the novel coronavirus change firefighting in Colorado?

Smoke is visible in the area and as far as New Mexico. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued an Air Quality Health Advisory in southwestern Colorado on Monday morning due to the smoke from both the East Canyon Fire and Loading Pen Fire. The latter was reported Saturday evening about 23 miles northeast of Cortez between Stoner and Haycamp Mesa. It was caused by lightning and is estimated to be 13 acres.

The advisory for smokes from these two fires went into effect at 7 a.m. and will last until 9 a.m. on Tuesday. According to the advisory, the affected areas include La Plata County, San Juan County and eastern parts of Montezuma County and Dolores County, including, but not limited to the communities of Durango, Silverton, Mancos and Rico.

The winds will increase Monday afternoon from the southwest, which may lead to an increase in fire activity and will send smoke to locations northeast of the fire, including areas around Rico and Silverton. By Monday evening, the wind will calm, leading smoke to stay in lower lying areas, such as Mancos and Durango early Tuesday morning, according to the advisory.

For more information on the East Canyon Fire, call the La Plata County fire hotline at 970-385-8700.