Trinidad Fire Downgraded From 55% Contained to 20% Contained

A wildfire burning near Trinidad is 20 percent contained as of Friday morning, and has now burned up 5,100 acres, entirely on private ranch land. The fire was listed as 55 percent contained on Wednesday but has been downgraded to 20 percent contained Friday.

The fire started at Vermejo Park Ranch, which is owned by media-magnate Ted Turner. It's located west of Raton, NM. Officials say it was a prescribed burn that got out of control.

Fire crews from all over Colorado, and even as far away as Flagstaff, Ariz., have come out to help contain the blaze. Fire officials tell 11 News that about 5,168 acres have burned and four homes are threatened in Colorado, on the north side of the fire. On Thursday, fire crews will hand over containment efforts to the Eastern Arizona Incident Management Team. They'll focus on mopping up the eastern, western and northern flanks of the fire (the north end impacting Southern Colorado).

Witnesses tell 11 News that heavy smoke is in the area, about 40 miles west of Trinidad. Fire officials say steep terrain on the west and north sides of the fire, as well as continuing erratic winds are challenging suppression efforts.

With the terrain turning treacherous quickly, the ridge represents the fire crews last line of defense before it spills over into a dense forest where fighting it would be extremely difficult, according to C.K. Morey, District Supervisor for the Colorado State Forest Service's La Veta District.

Fire officials say about 75 percent of the fire is in New Mexico, and that the flames have only impacted about 45 acres in Colorado, and there has been no significant growth on the Colorado portion of the fire.

In addition to the nearly 200 firefighters working on this fire (includes both states), aircraft have also been utilized to help stifle the blaze as its northern edge neared a crucial ridge in Colorado. A helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft are being used in the fire fight.

Cooperating agencies include but are not limited to the Veremejo Park Ranch, the state of New Mexico, the state of Colorado, the U. S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Raton, New Mexico Fire Department, 6 Hot Shot crews, and 4 Type 2 hand crews.

Full containment is expected to be accomplished by Saturday. Stay with 11 News and for the latest.