BENT COUNTY – Dozens of firefighters remain on the scene of a 300 to 400-acre wildfire burning near the town of Las Animas. Bent County Emergency Manager Rick Stwalley said the Black Bridge Fire began at around 5:00 p.m. Thursday near a steel truss bridge that crosses the Purgatoire River.
No structures have been lost and firefighters worked through the night to conduct back burns and cut fire lines around the 7 homes closest to the burn area. Residents in those homes were evacuated as a precaution.
“It burned towards Las Animas until about 2:00 this morning and then it started burning toward Fort Lyon burning back on itself,” Stwalley said. “It jumped over the Arkansas River and it started moving toward Fort Lyon.”
Much of the burn area consists of brush and trees near the confluence of the Purgatoire and Arkansas Rivers. The fire engines are too heavy to drive on the soft soil. So, the primary focus was on structure protection.
Low humidity levels and gusting winds prompted a red flag warning for Bent and other surrounding counties along the Arkansas Valley.
“Hopefully they have it contained enough that when the wind comes up it won’t run too fast on us and we’ll be okay.
But that is a very big concern because of the red flag, low humidity, and the high wind.”
The burn area is also near the state-run Fort Lyon sober living facility. There are to open an emergency shelter in Las Animas should the more than 200 residents need to evacuate.
Stwalley said that Governor Jared Polis provide air support to make water drops during the afternoon. County leaders are also preparing a disaster declaration.