Colorado fire mostly controlled

Saturday, July 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK, Colo. – Firefighters had 90 percent of the Mesa Verde fire under control Friday afternoon. But a flare-up on the fire's north parameter charred hundreds of trees and kept firefighters on alert.

"It's both terrible and wonderful," said Boyd Lebeda, a firefighter from Colorado Springs.

Less than a half-mile in front of him, 100-foot flames turned trees into torches and the clean mountain air black. "It's a natural thing," he said. "But it's sad."

Nearly 1,000 firefighters were stationed outside the 52,000-acre national park, of which more than 23,000 acres have burned. Many of the firefighters assigned to Mesa Verde would soon be reassigned to fight other blazes in the West, especially Idaho, officials said.

The Mesa Verde fire should be fully contained within two or three days and is no longer a threat to the park's famed ancient cliff dwellings, fire team spokesman Don Cosby said.