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An underground fire has been burning in southwest Colorado since 2018

A coal seam fire has been burning on U.S. Forest Service land northeast of Dolores since summer 2018.

DOLORES, Colo. —

An underground fire that has been burning on U.S. Forest Service land since 2018 is expected to keep burning for the foreseeable future -- and could ignite a blaze above ground. 

That’s according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service, which said the underground fire was first discovered on Oct. 9. The blaze is burning on a coal seam northeast of Dolores east of Forest Service Road 525. 

It is believed to have first ignited in 2018, when the Plateau Fire occurred, the release says.

>A similar coal seam fire produced smoke last August near New Castle. The video above is a report about that fire.

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“The seam is extremely hot and will continue to burn for an indefinite period of time, producing minimal amounts of smoke and a strong odor of creosote that will be noticeable,” the U.S. Forest Service said. “The ground in and around the coal seam is extremely unstable and should be avoided.” 

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Because of this, the forest service plans to bring in a team of experts in 2020 to gather data on the fire and try to predict how long it will last. 

While the fire is burning underground, the forest service said it’s possible it could break through the surface and cause a vegetation fire. 

If anyone sees smoke in the area, they’re advised to call 911 or Durango Interagency Dispatch at 970-385-1324. 

A similar coal seam fire produced smoke last August near Rifle.

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