Lightning starts new fire south of Cortez

A Skycrane lowers to fill up at a pond south of Cortez as another helicopter prepares to dump water on the Escarpment Fire southeast of Road G and Hwy. 160. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

A Skycrane lowers to fill up at a pond south of Cortez as another helicopter prepares to dump water on the Escarpment Fire southeast of Road G and Hwy. 160.

Not again!

That has to be what some people are thinking after a fire was started by a a lightning strike Tuesday night.

The new highly visible fire is called the Escarpment Fire and was burning south of Cortez on Ute Mountain Ute land northwest of Mesa Verde National Park.

According to a Bureau of Land Managment news release, the fire was holding at around 40 acres at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

A firefighter ground crew was dispatched to the scene and single-engine air tanker and helicopters were making water drops on the blaze.

Tuesday night's thunderstorms brought an abundance of lightning, which resulted in three reported small fires. The one south of Cortez continued to smolder throughout the morning, then a little after noon, it started to move.

Cortez Fire Protection District Fire Chief Jeff Vandevoorde said the decision was made to not fight the new fire because of the rough terrain and its difficult location.

The fire's name — Escarpment, which is defined as “a steep slope or long cliff that occurs from erosion or faulting and separates two relatively level areas of differing elevations,” indicates that it is burning in a challenging area for firefighters.

As of 5:30 p.m., smoke was nearly gone and the fire appeared to have been contained.

A helicopter moves into position to dump water Wednesday afternoon on a lightning caused fire near Mesa Verde National Park on Ute Mountain Ute land. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

A helicopter moves into position to dump water Wednesday afternoon on a lightning caused fire near Mesa Verde National Park on Ute Mountain Ute land.

Flames flare up as a Skycrane moves into position to dump water above the fire to prevent it from reaching the top of the mesa Wednesday afternoon. The Escarpment Fire was caused by lightning Tuesday night. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Flames flare up as a Skycrane moves into position to dump water above the fire to prevent it from reaching the top of the mesa Wednesday afternoon. The Escarpment Fire was caused by lightning Tuesday night.

The Escarpment Fire erupts Wednesday afternoon after a lightning strike Tuesday night. See more photos on page 7A. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

The Escarpment Fire erupts Wednesday afternoon after a lightning strike Tuesday night. See more photos on page 7A.