Recent Fires at Mesa Verde National Park
Contact: Chief Ranger's Office, 970-529-4461
On Tuesday and Wednesday, July 5th and 6th, three small fires started in remote areas within or adjacent to Mesa Verde National Park. All three fires were caused by a thunderstorm that passed through the park on Tuesday afternoon. The three wildfires are known as the Dylan Fire (located at the base of the north escarpment in BLM lands, originally thought to be inside the park), the Moccasin Fire (one mile east of Cedar Tree Tower), and the Long Mesa Fire (between Chapin and Wetherill Mesas). Mesa Verde's engine and helitack crews have contained each of the fires to less than a tenth of an acre, and are monitoring them against further activity. Because the thunderstorm created dozens of ground strikes within Mesa Verde National Park, fire crews remain alert for the possibility of holdover fires, which can appear days after the original lightning strike.
The Dylan Fire was located close enough to roads for an engine to drive within hiking distance of the fire. The single tree fire was contained on Tuesday evening.
The Moccasin Fire was located in steep, difficult terrain on the flank of School Section Canyon. The fire crew was dropped off by helicopter before hiking another 45 minutes to the source of the smoke. Due to the area's inaccessibility, the crew spent the night in the backcountry, before mopping up the fire on Wednesday morning.
The Long Mesa Fire caused a delay in the opening of Wetherill Mesa to visitors, and the cancelation of Wednesday's first two Long House tours. This delay allowed aviation resources time to fly a reconnaissance mission over the western half of the park, assessing the danger of the Long Mesa fire and searching for other fires.
“We are under fire restrictions at Mesa Verde due to dry conditions,” reminded Superintendant Cliff Spencer. Under the current restrictions, campfires are permitted only at Morefield Campground in approved campfire rings. Barbecues and gas grills may be used at the Chapin Mesa Picnic Area, but no fires are permitted there. Smokers must smoke inside their vehicles. Mesa Verde’s fire danger rating is currently “High” but is expected to rise on hot sunny days. For more information, call the Chief Ranger’s Office at 970-529-4461
Did You Know?
The Ancestral Puebloans inhabited Mesa Verde for more than 700 years (550 A.D. to 1300 A.D.), but for the first six centuries, they primarily lived on the mesa tops. It was not until the final 75 to 100 years that they constructed and lived in the cliff dwellings for which Mesa Verde is known.