Firefighters may have saved several Bondad homes on Tuesday after a ditch fire went out of control.
“The fire department is terrific,” said Jean Ray, who owns a home about 50 feet from where the fire was stopped. “They saved us from what could have been a real catastrophe of 10 structures going down.”
The fire, reported shortly after 2 p.m., jumped La Posta Road (County Road 213) in the 600 block and burned up to 16 acres.
John Ten Eyck of Bondad, whose land was burned in the fire, was worried about his daughter’s new house under construction.
“It was a grass fire,” Ten Eyck said. “My neighbor was just burning his ditches, and it got away from him.”
Dave Abercrombie, spokesman for Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, stressed that conditions are extremely dry.
“We’re just as dry as we were in 2002,” Abercrombie said. The Missionary Ridge Fire scorched more than 70,000 acres that summer.
“The grass is incredibly dry,” he added. “It’s extremely difficult to control. Words escape me how dry it is. The wind is shifting all over the place. We’re facing a busy summer is the bottom line right now.”
Cpt. Jim Owens with Los Pinos Fire Protection District tends to a fire along County Road 213 on Tuesday.
Moisture overnight could help, but any gains are likely to be short-lived, Abercrombie said. Even if precipitation returned to normal this spring, thicker fuels such as logs would not fully recoup their moisture content, he added.
“I don’t care if it’s snow or rain at this point,” Abercrombie said. “We just need to get some moisture in the one-hour fuels, the grass and stuff on the ground.”
Fire officials have even held preliminary discussions about a burn ban, he said.
Homeowner John Ten Eyck surveys a house being built for his daughter, Kim Ten Eyck, after the fire burned 16 acres of his land. “The neighbor knocked and told me theres an out-of-control fire,” said Ten Eyck, who is hard of hearing. Some of the construction lumber caught fire, but the two homes were safe.