New Mexico and Arizona fires pour smoke into Montrose skies as wildfire also burns on West End

Flames torch terrain in remote western Montrose County as the South Fork Fire burns northwest of Nucla. Larger fires from out of state are contributing to Montrose's smoky skies. (Courtesy photo/ BLM Southwest Colorado Fire and Aviation Management Unit/Facebook)

Smoke-filtered sun put Montrose in a haze Tuesday morning, as fires burned in New Mexico and Arizona.

A 15-acre fire is also burning on the West End, northwest of Nucla and near Horse Mesa, but the Bureau of Land Management says the biggest contributors to the smoky skies are the out of state fires, about which further information was pending as of deadline.

“A lot of people woke up with smoke. It is coming from the Arizona and New Mexico area. I think that’s the biggest thing,” said Deana Harms of the Bureau of Land Management’s Uncompahgre Field Office in Montrose.

The smoke from those fires, she said “just kind of punches through that atmosphere and then gets transported.”

The West End blaze was one of several smaller fires sparked by lightning in Sunday storms. Now called the South Fork Fire, it was detected Monday afternoon and was last estimated at about 15 acres. It is burning near the old burn area left by the Bull Draw Fire in 2018.

The BLM has engines and a helicopter on the South Fork Fire. Additional resources have been ordered.

Hot, dry conditions persist throughout the area.

Montrose County Sheriff Gene Lillard, said he is weighing a Stage 1 fire ban, although nothing has been decided yet.

Load comments