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Saturday’s Brush Fire Near Towaoc Is Region's Largest So Far This Year, Fire Official Says

Nicola Clilverd Shanks
A Facebook user posted the above photo of the fire at about 5pm Saturday on KSJD's Facebook page. Several structures north of the blaze were threatened, and officials issued mandatory evacuations for nearby residents.

A brush fire near Towaoc over the weekend that prompted evacuations and threatened several structures burned a total of 93 acres. Joe Morris, Bureau of Indian Affairs Ute Mountain Agency Fire Management Officer, told KSJD the fire has been the largest in the Durango Interagency Wildfire region so far this year.


The blaze started at about 3pm on Saturday, Morris said. High winds made it spread quickly, and it prompted mandatory evacuations. Authorities closed Highway 160 for over an hour as 35 firefighters from six different agencies responded.


No people or structures were harmed. Morris said a rainstorm Saturday night helped firefighters contain the fire, but it wasn’t fully controlled until Sunday afternoon. The cause of the incident remains under investigation.

Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.
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