05/31/2011 10:36 am ET Updated Jul 31, 2011

Bear Fire Burns 6,900 Acres, Purgatorie Fire Burns Additional 6,100 Acres (UPDATE)

A wildfire being called the Bear Fire that started burning on Thursday has continued to burn through the holiday weekend in area around the Colorado-New Mexico border, south of Trinidad, Colorado. The blaze had already burned 3,500 acres over the long weekend, as the Colorado Springs Gazette reported, has grown to approximately 5,000 acres on Tuesday as The Pueblo Chieftain reports.


After two blazes in Las Animas County in southeast Colorado burned close to 20 square miles near the Colorado-New Mexico borders, tireless firefighters have gained the upper hand on both the Bear and Purgatorie Fires. On Thursday, for the first time all week, the fires did not grow larger, they instead started to shrink.

The Denver Post reports that the Bear Fire did not increase beyond 6,900 acres and had been burning since before Memorial Day Weekend was 60 percent contained by Thursday.

To the north, the Purgatorie Fire near Trinidad was 75 percent contained and did not increase beyond 6,100 acres as of Thursday, according to a Pueblo Chieftain report.

According to forest services, no homes or lives have been lost in the fire thus far.


A crew of 400 firefighters are still battling the Bear and Purgatorie Fires which have scorched close to 13,000 acres near the Colorado-New Mexico border, on Thursday. The Bear Fire, which has burned approximately 6,900 acres is about 40 percent contained while the Purgatorie Fire, which has burned 6,100 acres is 60 percent contained, according to a report by The Denver Post.

Wednesday's overcast skies, some precipitation and cooler weather helped firefighters contain the two fires, however Thursday's forecast calls for very high winds, up to 65 mph, according to The Denver Post.

Dawn Sanchez, of the U.S. Forest Fire Service, made a statement to the Pueblo Chieftain that the rugged terrain has made the firefighter's jobs, some of which have been battling the fires for 36 hours straight, all the more difficult:

Not only the accessibility, bu we also have had extremely high winds and low humidities. It wasn't safe to put those firefighters in front of the fires. They have thrown everything they have at the fire, but unfortunately Mother Nature had different intentions of the fire. It grew rapidly.

Meanwhile, another fire which fire crews believe was also started by lightening has broken out Wednesday on the Busch Ranch near Walsenburg, Colorado, and as of Wednesday night was 20 percent contained as KRDO reports.


The two wildfires that broke out over the Memorial Day Weekend have grown, together the wildfires have burned more than 11,000 acres along the Colorado-New Mexico border in Las Animas County, according to the latest reports from the Denver Post.

High winds and warmer temperatures on Tuesday gave both the Bear Fire and Purgatorie Fire a boost. According to the Pueblo Chieftain, the Bear Fire has burned approximately 5,000 acres on the Horseshoe and Barela mesas and is 15 percent contained as of Wednesday morning. The Purgatorie Fire, northeast of Trinidad, grew to burning 5,600 acres by Tuesday afternoon - authorities are saying there is no containment of this fire and are still unsure when or how it started.

The National Weather Service has issued a "Red Flag Warning" in southeast Colorado for Wednesday due to low humidity, gusty winds and dry fuels in the region.


In a statement made to the Denver Post, Dawn Sanchez of the U.S. Forest Service said four homes are within a half mile of the the fire and according to 7News have been put on standby for possible evacuation as of Monday. Sanchez goes on to state in the Colorado Springs Gazette that the blaze has also consumed about 120 acres in New Mexico as well.

Rita Baysinger of the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center said that 75 firefighters and one helicopter have been fighting the fire on the Colorado side since Monday and at at least 140 more firefighters are expected to arrive by Tuesday, as reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette. So far, three firefighters have suffered minor burns have been treated and released, as 7News goes on to report.

The Denver Post reports that the fire was started by lightning on Thursday and was first reported around 17 miles northeast of Raton, New Mexico. By Friday, the blaze had moved across the border into Colorado, according to 7News.

According to the Pueblo Chieftain, another fire broke out on Monday northeast of Trinidad, burning at the Purgatorie River Canyon and has already burned 500 acres. Officials are unsure how or when this second fire started and as of Monday night, no one has been injured and no homes are in danger near this second fire.