It was not near the tourist-heavy areas in the town known for its proximity to Arches and Canyonlands national parks. And rangers say campers are failing to extinguish their campfires, creating an untenable situation.
As of June 12, the Burro Fire east of Dolores scorched nearly 2,684 acres in the forest, and the 416 Fire north of Durango has scorched more than 23,000 acres around the Hermosa Creek drainage.
Fire risks are at "historic levels", San Juan National Forest Fire Staff Officer Richard Bustamante said, adding, "Under current conditions, one abandoned campfire or spark could cause a catastrophic wildfire, and we are not willing to take that chance with the natural and cultural resources under our protection and care, or with human life and property". It comes amid a severe drought in the Four Corners area where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet. A number of Forest Roads in the area are closed, including Forest Roads 530, 544,501, 512 WA and the Mountain Home Trail System. Officials are crediting fuel breaks in helping contain the fire, a system that has been in place since 2007. Rangers considered the weather forecast, forest health, visitation numbers and the availability of firefighting equipment before making the decision.
Large wildfires also forced evacuations farther west.
"It's a huge step".
The photographer said the couple had to move the spot of the wedding because of the fire and chose to use the fire for a backdrop. "It's a big inconvenience and a big economic hit to the area".
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Adam Bianchi said the latest fire came within 200 yards of a subdivision that includes condos, apartments and pricey homes. Businesses in local communities will remain open for business during the Forest closure at their discretion.
"We've got to watch the fire and the activity and what it's going to do", he said. "We're all praying for a good wet season". Those who violate the closure and are caught inside the forest could face a fine of $5,000 and six months in prison.
Fire officials say the fire appears to have started in U.S. Forest Service land between the Mesa Cortina and Buffalo Mountain trailheads.
More than 800 firefighters battled the blaze, which was 10 percent contained, unchanged from Sunday.
The blazes destroyed more than 12,300 homes and other structures.
Though the fire is expected to continue burning until then, it doesn't mean the Type I team will manage the fire the entirety of the time, or that people will be out of their homes for that long, spokeswoman Jamie Knight said.
The fire is at 91 acres and is still growing.