Wildfire – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Fri, 03 Jul 2020 16:53:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 http://www.pagosasun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/cropped-sun-logo-512x512-1-32x32.jpg Wildfire – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com 32 32 Sand Creek Fire grows to 101 acres http://www.pagosasun.com/sand-creek-fire-grows-to-101-acres/ Fri, 03 Jul 2020 16:52:07 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=206804 On Thursday, the Sand Creek Fire continued burning along the steep eastern slope of the ridgeline between Sand Creek and Cold Water Creek. Yesterday’s fire activity included small flames and some isolated torching as the fire settled into a pocket of dry and readily combustible fuel.

The fire is estimated at 101 acres.

On Friday, crews are scouting an additional lookout point from which to monitor the fire’s activity.

The fire’s behavior is expected to remain moderate today as the overcast skies this morning should continue throughout the day and keep the humidity higher than that of the previous week.

A forest closure is in effect around the fire area. The full text and a map of the closure can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/6790/.

Fire danger across the region is rated as extreme. Fire restrictions are in place on the San Juan National Forest and within Archuleta County and Hinsdale County.

A temporary flight restriction is in place over the Sand Creek Fire. Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Every time a drone is spotted near the fire all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of the area. For more information, visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org.

Additional information about the Sand Creek Fire can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6790.

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Fireworks prohibited in county and town, county fire restrictions in place http://www.pagosasun.com/fireworks-prohibited-in-county-and-town-county-fire-restrictions-in-place-2/ Fri, 03 Jul 2020 11:00:04 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=206743 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

On May 20 Archuleta County enacted Stage 1 fire restrictions, and within those restrictions, personal fireworks “of any kind” are prohibited.

“Personal fireworks are prohibited under the Stage 1 fire ban that we’re in. We’ll be out and about on routine patrol and they’ll be enforcing that, for sure,” Archuleta County Sheriff Rich Valdez said in an interview on Wednesday.

Archuleta County Undersheriff Derek Woodman noted in an interview Wednesday that Archuleta County’s fire ordinance is where the prohibition of personal fireworks is.

“Anytime a fire ban is put in place, whether it’s a one, two or three, fireworks are always prohibited under that ordinance,” Woodman said.

The ordinance also outlines that, regardless of location, open burning, burn barrels, agricultural burning and the use of explosive materials are also prohibited.

Outside of developed areas, the fire restrictions advise citizens to contact their local ranger district, the Bureau of Land Management or the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for the latest restrictions.

Fire danger across the region is rated as extreme. Fire restrictions are also in place on the San Juan National Forest, for tribal lands and in neighboring areas.

In developed areas within unincorporated Archuleta County, charcoal fires in suitable containers, gas grills for barbecues at residences, camp stoves, grills or lights fueled by bottled gas, and fires in permanent fire pits are allowed.

Fire pits must have a 4-foot clearance from combustible materials.

Fires must be attended, and citizens should have firefighting tools and five gallons of water available.

Smoking is limited to vehicles, buildings, developed recreational areas or 3-foot wide areas that are clear of vegetation.

Internal combustion engines must have spark arrestors, and cutting and welding operations must have fire hand tools, 40 pounds’ worth of fire extinguishers or a pressurized water supply on hand, as well as a fire watch standing by.

Flaring for production wells is allowed, but citizens must contact dispatch, and compliance with the Rules for Fire Prevention and Protection must be met.

The county’s fire restrictions do not apply to the Town of Pagosa Springs unless town council were to adopt the same restrictions, Pagosa Springs Police Department Chief William Rockensock explained in an interview Wednesday.

“We do have fireworks restrictions. We have always had fireworks restrictions. They are completely prohibited in the town, and if we catch you with them, you will receive a summons to appear in court,” Rockensock said.

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Firefighters continue monitoring Sand Creek Fire http://www.pagosasun.com/firefighters-continue-monitoring-sand-creek-fire/ Thu, 02 Jul 2020 22:10:51 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=206741 By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer

The Sand Creek Fire, located 21 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs, in the Piedra Special Management Area, had burned 88 acres as of late Wednesday morning.

Firefighters are continuing to monitor the fire until they can safely engage it, a Wednesday update from the fire’s management team indicates, with the “dense layer of fallen trees and steep terrain, coupled with the slow movement of the fire” dictating modified firefighting tactics.

The update notes that, as of Wednesday, fire activity on the Sand Creek Fire “remains light to moderate as it creeps within thick slash. Light smoke is intermittently visible where heavy fuels smolder and burn away.”

On Tuesday, the report states, considerable personnel were released from the Sand Creek Fire to be available to assist in other areas of the southwest.

On Wednesday, crews were set to scout trails south and west of the fire for conditions that may necessitate additional firefighting resources, according to the update. A snowpack measuring station north of the Sand Creek Fire was slated to be inspected as part of further assessment and contingency plans. 

The update indicates that firefighters also planned to utilize unmanned aerial systems to monitor the fire’s progression Wednesday.

A forest closure remains in effect around the fire area. The full text and a map of the closure can be found at: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/6790/.

The update also notes that a temporary flight restriction is in place over the Sand Creek Fire and reminds that wildfires are a “No Drone Zone.” 

“If you fly, we can’t. Every time a drone is spotted near the fire all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of the area. For more information, visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org,” the update states.

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Local fire groups outline conditions, ask for money http://www.pagosasun.com/local-fire-groups-outline-conditions-ask-for-money/ Thu, 02 Jul 2020 22:09:13 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=206739 By John Finefrock
Staff Writer

Staff from Wildfire Adapted Partnership (WAP) and the San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership (SJHFHP) outlined local fire dynamics to the county commissioners at their work session on June 16.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

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Fireworks prohibited in county and town, county fire restrictions in place http://www.pagosasun.com/fireworks-prohibited-in-county-and-town-county-fire-restrictions-in-place/ Thu, 02 Jul 2020 16:43:23 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=206610 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

On May 20 Archuleta County enacted Stage 1 fire restrictions, and within those restrictions, personal fireworks “of any kind” are prohibited.

“Personal fireworks are prohibited under the Stage 1 fire ban that we’re in. We’ll be out and about on routine patrol and they’ll be enforcing that, for sure,” Archuleta County Sheriff Rich Valdez said in an interview on Wednesday.

Archuleta County Undersheriff Derek Woodman noted in an interview Wednesday that Archuleta County’s fire ordinance is where the prohibition of personal fireworks is.

“Anytime a fire ban is put in place, whether it’s a one, two or three, fireworks are always prohibited under that ordinance,” Woodman said.

The ordinance also outlines that, regardless of location, open burning, burn barrels, agricultural burning and the use of explosive materials are also prohibited.

Outside of developed areas, the fire restrictions advise citizens to contact their local ranger district, the Bureau of Land Management or the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for the latest restrictions.

Fire danger across the region is rated as extreme. Fire restrictions are also in place on the San Juan National Forest, for tribal lands and in neighboring areas.

In developed areas within unincorporated Archuleta County, charcoal fires in suitable containers, gas grills for barbecues at residences, camp stoves, grills or lights fueled by bottled gas, and fires in permanent fire pits are allowed.

Fire pits must have a 4-foot clearance from combustible materials.

Fires must be attended, and citizens should have firefighting tools and five gallons of water available.

Smoking is limited to vehicles, buildings, developed recreational areas or 3-foot wide areas that are clear of vegetation.

Internal combustion engines must have spark arrestors, and cutting and welding operations must have fire hand tools, 40 pounds’ worth of fire extinguishers or a pressurized water supply on hand, as well as a fire watch standing by.

Flaring for production wells is allowed, but citizens must contact dispatch, and compliance with the Rules for Fire Prevention and Protection must be met.

The county’s fire restrictions do not apply to the Town of Pagosa Springs unless town council were to adopt the same restrictions, Pagosa Springs Police Department Chief William Rockensock explained in an interview Wednesday.

“We do have fireworks restrictions. We have always had fireworks restrictions. They are completely prohibited in the town, and if we catch you with them, you will receive a summons to appear in court,” Rockensock said.

chris@pagosasun.com

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High winds expected over the Goose Creek Fire today http://www.pagosasun.com/high-winds-expected-over-the-goose-creek-fire-today/ Tue, 30 Jun 2020 20:58:14 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=206485 Gregg Goodland
Rio Grande National Forest

Wind gusts in excess of 35 miles an hour could fan the flames of the Goose Creek Fire burning south of Creede today.

A Red Flag Warning for high winds and low relative humidity is in effect. Additional firefighting resources arrived Monday and are developing plans to protect property along Goose Creek, if the fire should move and begin to pose a threat.

Initially reported on Sunday, June 28, the lightning caused fire is burning in the Weminuche Wilderness Area near Lake Humphreys and is estimated at 149 acres in size. The fire continued to burn actively into the night last night but is bounded by healthy aspen groves, rock bands and an area previously burned during the West Fork Complex in 2013. Containment is reported at 10 percent.

Approximately 90 firefighters have staged at the Humprheys Ranch, including a hot shot crew, a 20-person hand crew and half a dozen fire engines. No structures are in immediate danger.

An incident-specific web page on this fire is on Inciweb at: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6812/

Fire danger remains very high across the Rio Grande National Forest and Stage 2 fire restrictions remain in place.

 

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Sunday and Monday’s winds increase Sand Creek Fire acreage http://www.pagosasun.com/sunday-and-mondays-winds-increase-sand-creek-fire-acreage/ Tue, 30 Jun 2020 20:53:10 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=206483 Troy Hagan, Incident Commander
Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Black

Current situation: The Sand Creek Fire has grown to 88 acres. An infrared flight on Monday mapped the increased acreage that occurred on Sunday. The fire’s growth was primarily on the northwest corner, as the fire crept uphill through heavy fuels.

On Monday, gusty winds over the fire kept the fire creeping through heavy fuels, but little smoke was produced. The fire remains in the Little Sand Fire scar moving through heavy dead and downed fuels. On Tuesday, firefighters will utilize Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to monitor the fire’s progression and validate safe possibilities if directly engaging the fire becomes an option.

Tuesday will be Team Black’s last day on the Sand Creek Fire. The fire will be turned back to the local unit and a Type 4 team, led by Incident Commander Jon Freeman from the Columbine Ranger District, will take command of the fire on Tuesday evening at 10 p.m.

Weather and fuel conditions: A dry cold front brings cooler temperatures and partly cloudy skies on Tuesday. As the front passes through the area, winds are expected to gust 25-28 mph. Temperatures will range in the low 70s. A Fire Weather Warning and a Red Flag Warning have been issued for the area until 8 p.m.

Evacuations and closures: A forest closure remains in effect around the fire area. The full text and a map of the closure can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/6790/. The Piedra River Trail (596), Little Sand Creek Trail (591), Lower Weminuche Trail (595), Coldwater Trail (597), and Coldwater Stock Trail (598) are all presently open. The Sand Creek Trail (593) and North Ridge Trail (594) are the only trails that are closed at this time. Mosca Road, NFSR 631 is also closed within the fire area. NFSR 631 east of the fire area is restricted to local traffic only. Please see today’s map for the extent of the Mosca Road closures and restrictions.

Smoke outlook: Air quality jumped into the moderate category for a couple of hours around midnight Monday-Tuesday, and returned to good within an hour. Continued increased afternoon fire activity can be expected to generate smoke that will impact air quality. Smoke from fires in Arizona, Utah, and now Nevada continues to be pushed into western/southwestern Colorado, and may be noticed more as southwest winds push it through the area at higher elevations.

Today’s smoke outlook will be the last produced for the Sand Creek Fire. Questions and concerns regarding air quality and smoke may be directed to the Pagosa Ranger District, at 970-264-2268, or email at PagosaRD@usda.gov.

Fire restrictions: Fire danger across the region is rated as extreme. Fire restrictions are in place on the San Juan National Forest. Archuleta County and Hinsdale County have both enacted Stage 1 Fire Restrictions.

Temporary flight restrictions: A temporary flight restriction is in place over the Sand Creek Fire. Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Every time a drone is spotted near the fire all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of the area. For more information, visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org.

Sand Creek Fire Statistics:

Location: Approximately 20 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs, Colo.

Size:  88 acres

Containment:  0 percent

Total personnel:  163

Cause: lightning

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Sand Creek Fire more active on Sunday but no growth detected http://www.pagosasun.com/sand-creek-fire-more-active-on-sunday-but-no-growth-detected/ Mon, 29 Jun 2020 18:55:30 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=206469 Troy Hagan, Incident Commander
Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Black

Current situation: Weekend storms and breezy weather increased fire activity on the Sand Creek Fire, creating more smoke than was seen late last week. The fire continues smoldering in the heavy fuels, slowly “cleaning up” the numerous fallen trees left from the 2012 Little Sand Fire.

The Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control Multi-Mission Aircraft mapped the fire yesterday and found some heat within the fire’s perimeter but did not detect measurable growth. On Monday, firefighters will continue monitoring the Sand Creek Fire as it is expected to continue smoldering in the heavy fuels.

Weather and fuel conditions: Today, clouds will break slightly around 10 a.m. Winds will increase throughout the day, becoming gusty over the fire in the afternoon. Temperatures are expected to hover in the upper 70s and humidity will settle around 15 percent.

Evacuations and closures: A forest closure is in effect around the fire area. The full text and a map of the closure can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/6790/. The Piedra River Trail (596), Little Sand Creek Trail (591), Lower Weminuche Trail (595), Coldwater Trail (597), and Coldwater Stock Trail (598) are all presently open. The Sand Creek Trail (593) and North Ridge Trail (594) are the only trails that are closed at this time. Mosca Road, NFSR 631 is also closed within the fire area. NFSR 631 east of the fire area is restricted to local traffic only. Please see today’s map for the extent of the Mosca Road closures and restrictions.

Smoke outlook: Yesterday’s increased fire activity produced a bit more smoke, and migrated down canyon along the Piedras River in the overnight hours. Air quality moved into the moderate category for a couple of hours around midnight, and retuned to good within an hour. Increased fire activity can be expected to generate smoke that will impact air quality. Smoke from fires in Arizona and Utah continues to push into western/southwestern Colorado, and may be noticed as slight haze. As always, if you smell smoke, you’re breathing smoke. Take actions to avoid smoke exposure especially if you’re sensitive. Information on air quality and a smoke forecast for the area can be found at https://fires.airfire.org/outlooks/SWColorado.

Fire restrictions: Fire danger across the region is rated as extreme. Fire restrictions are in place on the San Juan National Forest. Archuleta County and Hinsdale County have both enacted Stage 1 Fire Restrictions.

Temporary flight restrictions: A temporary flight restriction is in place over the Sand Creek Fire. Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Every time a drone is spotted near the fire all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of the area. For more information, visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org.

Sand Creek Fire statistics:

Size:  71 acres

Location: Approximately 20 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs

Containment:  0 percent

Total Personnel:  198

Cause: Lightning

 

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Sand Creek Fire tested by Saturday storms http://www.pagosasun.com/sand-creek-fire-tested-by-saturday-storms/ Sun, 28 Jun 2020 16:33:28 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=206455 Troy Hagan, Incident Commander
Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Black

Current situation: On Saturday, the Sand Creek Fire continued smoldering but did not result in measurable growth despite storms that moved over the fire area midday and into the afternoon. Winds fanned smoldering logs in the fire area and resulted in smoke being visible from Pagosa Springs in the afternoon.

Firefighters performing structure evaluations in the Weminuche Valley sought shelter from wind and lightning associated with the storms in the early afternoon, but were able to resume after the weather cleared. Structure evaluations in the Weminuche Valley were finalized on Saturday.

On Sunday, storms are again expected to move over southwest Colorado and produce gusty winds over the fire in the evening. Firefighting resources will monitor the Sand Creek Fire for changes in behavior and be ready to assist with local fire response if any new fire starts occur.

Weather and fuel conditions: Skies are expected to be mostly clear over the fire on Sunday with temperatures in the upper 70s. A strong low pressure weather system will strengthen southwest winds across the area into Monday, with winds expected to be stronger than Saturday gusting up to 25 mph Sunday afternoon into the evening.

Evacuations and closures: A forest closure is in effect around the fire area. The full text and a map of the closure can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/6790/. The Piedra River Trail (596), Little Sand Creek Trail (591), Lower Weminuche Trail (595), Coldwater Trail (597), and Coldwater Stock Trail (598) are all presently open. The Sand Creek Trail (593) and North Ridge Trail (594) are the only trails that are closed at this time. Mosca Road, NFSR 631 is also closed within the fire area. NFSR 631 east of the fire area is restricted to local traffic only. Please see today’s map for the extent of the Mosca Road closures and restrictions.

Smoke outlook: Yesterday’s increased fire activity produced a bit more smoke, but not enough to push air quality out of the ‘good’ category. Air quality is good this morning, and is predicted to remain good into the first part of the week. Smoke from fires in Arizona and Utah continues to push into western/southwestern Colorado, and may be noticed as slight haze. As always, if you smell smoke, you’re breathing smoke. Take actions to avoid smoke exposure especially if you’re sensitive. Information on air quality and a smoke forecast for the area can be found at https://fires.airfire.org/outlooks/SWColorado.

Fire restrictions: Fire danger across the region is rated as extreme. Fire restrictions are in place on the San Juan National Forest. Archuleta County and Hinsdale County have both enacted Stage 1 Fire Restrictions.

Temporary flight restrictions: A temporary flight restriction is in place over the Sand Creek Fire. Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Every time a drone is spotted near the fire all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of the area. For more information, visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org.

Sand Creek Fire statistics:

Location:  Approximately 20 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Size:  71 acres

Containment:  0 percent

Total Personnel:  198

Cause: Lightning

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Sand Creek Fire remains at 71 acres http://www.pagosasun.com/sand-creek-fire-remains-at-71-acres/ Sat, 27 Jun 2020 18:51:28 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=206445 Troy Hagan, Incident Commander
Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Black

Current situation: The Sand Creek Fire was unaffected by winds moving over the area on Friday. The fire remains at 71 acres. Green grass and live vegetation have helped  limit the fire’s growth as it creeps through heavy fallen trees. On Saturday, dry thunderstorms are again expected in the area. Firefighting resources remain engaged with the Sand Creek Fire and will be finalizing the Weminuche Valley structure assessment.

Weather and fuel conditions: Isolated thunderstorms with very little rainfall are anticipated Saturday afternoon. These storms could possibly bring strong winds and frequent lightning to areas north and east of the Sand Creek Fire. Afternoon temperatures are expected to be in the 70s and humidity will fall to near 15 percent.

Evacuations and closures: A forest closure is in effect around the fire area. The full text and a map of the closure can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/6790/. The Piedra River Trail (596), Little Sand Creek Trail (591), Lower Weminuche Trail (595), Coldwater Trail (597), and Coldwater Stock Trail (598) are all presently open. The Sand Creek Trail (593) and North Ridge Trail (594) are the only trails that are closed at this time. Mosca Road, NFSR 631 is also closed within the fire area. NFSR 631 east of the fire area is restricted to local traffic only. Please see today’s map for the extent of the Mosca Road closures and restrictions.

Smoke outlook: An air quality monitor is set up in the vicinity of Piedra, where U.S. 160 crosses the Piedra River. Air quality at that location is anticipated to be good this morning, and is predicted to remain good across the outlook area through the weekend and into the first part of the week. Smoke from Arizona fires continues to drift into southwestern Colorado, and may be noticed as slight haze.Information on air quality and a smoke forecast for the area can be found at https://fires.airfire.org/outlooks/SWColorado.

Fire restrictions: Fire danger across the region is rated as extreme. Fire restrictions are in place on the San Juan National Forest. Archuleta County and Hinsdale County have both enacted Stage 1 Fire Restrictions.

Temporary flight restrictions: A temporary flight restriction is in place over the Sand Creek Fire. Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Every time a drone is spotted near the fire all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of the area. For more information, visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org.

 

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