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West Fork Complex chronology

Map courtesy National Incident Management Organization Wednesday, June 26: The West Fork Complex Fires now total 81,331 acres. The fire areas are outlined in red.

Map courtesy National Incident Management Organization
Wednesday, June 26: The West Fork Complex Fires now total 81,331 acres. The fire areas are outlined in red.

Following is a chronology noting important dates in the growth of the West Fork Complex fires.

Acreages listed below are for the morning of the given day.

Wednesday, June 5 

The West Fork Fire begins west of the Continental Divide near Born’s Lake northeast of Pagosa Springs, in an area difficult to access. The cause is lightning.

Size: One-quarter acre.

Thursday, June 13

A Type 3 incident commander arrives and additional resources are ordered.

The Windy Pass Fire begins from a lightning strike 12 miles northeast of Pagosa Springs, near the Windy Pass Trail.

Resources include one 10-person Type 2 hand crew and one Type 6 engine.

West Fork size: 25 acres.

Windy Pass size: unknown.

Friday, June 14

Smoke begins to be visible from U.S. 160 and the West Fork Trail is closed. Additional resources, including two Type 2 hand crews, two Type 2 helicopters and one Type 3 helicopter are ordered.

Thirteen backpackers are safely evacuated from the West Fork Trail and Rainbow Hot Springs.

West Fork: 150 acres.

Windy Pass: unknown.

Saturday, June 15

Helicopters begin water drops as part of an effort to keep the West Fork Fire off of private land.

An additional 20-person crew is ordered for the Windy Pass Fire. The fire grows to 35 acres by mid afternoon. Water drops are used.

More than 65 personnel are working each fire.

West Fork: 470 acres.

Windy Pass: 5-6 acres.

Sunday, June 16

The two fires are now being managed as the West Fork Complex. A Type 2 National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) team is ordered.

The Falls Creek and Wolf Creek roads, Treasure Mountain Trail and Windy Pass Trail are closed.

West Fork: over 1,747 acres.

Windy Pass: 108 acres.

Monday, June 17

A portion of the Continental Divide Trail is closed, as is the Lobo Overlook atop Wolf Creek Pass.

More than 200 people are assigned to the complex.

West Fork: over 2,500.

Windy Pass: 129 acres.

Tuesday, June 18

The fires are less active due to cloud cover.

Complex: 3,280 acres.

Wednesday, June 19

Area fire restrictions take effect.

Red Flag Warnings begin and a large smoke plume is visible. Fire activity is extreme.

Complex: 4,070.

Thursday, June 20

Pre-evacuation orders are given to residents and visitors on West Fork Road and private landowners in the East Fork drainage.

A spot fire from the West Fork Fire lands in the Rio Grande National Forest and the fire is established east of the Continental Divide. Areas within the RGNF are closed.

Several evacuations, including for the top of Wolf Creek Pass to the town limits of South Fork, and pre-evacuations are announced.

U.S. 160 over Wolf Creek Pass is closed.

Complex: 12,710 acres.

West Fork: 12,001 acres.

Windy Pass: 709 acres.

Friday, June 21

The town of South Fork is put under mandatory evacuation. Colo. 149 between South Fork and Creede is closed.

Over 30 engines are stationed in South Fork.

The Papoose Fire north of the West Fork Fire grows from about 2,000 acres to more than 11,000 acres.

Complex: 29,911 acres.

West Fork: almost 29,000 acres.

Windy Pass: around 1,000 acres.

Saturday, June 22

The Papoose Fire is now being managed by the complex.

Complex: 53,544 acres.

West Fork: 42,516 acres.

Windy Pass: 937 acres.

Papoose: more than 11,000 acres.

Sunday, June 23

A Type 1 incident management team arrives on the east side of the fire.

Complex size: 70,262

West Fork: 49,862 acres.

Windy Pass: 987 acres.

Papoose: 19,413 acres.

Monday, June 24

Members of the Colorado National Guard are called in.

Complex: 75,150 acres.

Tuesday, June 25

Over 1,300 personnel are currently assigned to the fires.

This is the seventh straight day of Red Flag Warnings.

Complex: 79,182 acres.

West Fork: 54,222 acres.

Windy Pass: 1,355 acres.

Papoose: 23,605 acres.

Wednesday, June 26

Weather turns more favorable, with no Red Flag Warning in place.

Complex: 81,331 acres.

West Fork: 54,714 acres.

Windy Pass: 1,381 acres.

Papoose: 25,236 acres.

This story was posted on June 27, 2013.