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Complex fires grow to 79,182 acres, meeting set for Saturday

Photo courtesy Kayli Postelese The West Fork Fire, as seen from above. The West Fork Complex fires have grown to more than 79,000 acres, with 0 percent containment.

Photo courtesy Kayli Postelese
The West Fork Fire, as seen from above. The West Fork Complex fires have grown to more than 79,000 acres, with 0 percent containment.

A fire information meeting will be held in Pagosa Springs at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at the Ross Aragon Community Center.

 Current situation

East Zone of the West Fork Complex (includes Papoose and eastern part of West Fork fires):

A night shift has been established for this zone which includes the Papoose Fire and the portion of the West Fork Fire that is north of the Continental Divide.  Several engines are monitoring the fire overnight and providing structure protection where necessary.

Papoose Fire:  On the west flank of the fire, firefighters are developing a plan in the event that the fire crosses Squaw Creek and threatens the Rio Grande Dam.  If the fire crosses the drainage, they will use firing operations to help back the fire down to the dam.  Along the north and northwest flanks, firefighters will continue to provide structure protection and will be evaluating structures further north on Colo. 149.

Eastern part of West Fork Fire: On the northeast and east flanks, firefighters will continue to provide structure protection along Colo. 149 and near Lake Humphreys and Metroz Lake.  Structure protection is in place east of Colo. 149 in the event that the fire pushes to the east and crosses the highway.  Firefighters in this area will be evaluating structures and monitoring the fire activity.  On the south flank, along U.S. 160, firefighters will continue to work to keep the fire north of the highway.

West Zone of West Fork Complex (Includes Western Part of West Fork and Windy Pass fires):

Western part of West Fork Fire:  The West Zone of the West Fork Fire is the portion of the fire burning south of the Continental Divide. There continues to be moderate fire activity on the south flank of the fire above Borns’ Lake and farther to the west.  Firefighters will complete installing and testing a sprinkler system to protect Bruce Spruce Resort and other structures along West Fork Road today.  Structure protection for Born’s Lake remains in place.

Windy Pass Fire:  The Windy Pass Fire had some active burning on the west flank of the fire in beetle kill yesterday and went from 1,244 acres yesterday to 1,355 acres by this morning.   With winds expected to come from the west today, firefighters are hoping to be able to use retardant drops to slow or stop the progression of the fire into Waterfall Creek.  Crews will continue to work on contingency lines protecting the Wolf Creek Ski Area and monitor the contingency line on the south end along East Fork Road.


Yesterday wind gusts as high as 62 mph were recorded above Wolf Creek Pass.  High pressure building today will slightly reduce wind speeds and shift wind direction.  Winds are predicted to shift to the west/southwest at 10-20 mph with gusting to 30 mph.  Relative humidity will continue to be 11-16 percent.  The Haines Index has been reduced to 5 for today.  This indicates there is moderate potential for extreme fire behavior, intensity and growth.  Given the warm temperatures, low humidities and extremely dry fuels, it remains a heads-up day for fire behavior.

 Evacuations and closures  

No additional closures or evacuations have been issued.  The road block at Creede was moved back to Wagon Wheel Gap yesterday.  Local traffic from Creede is being escorted between Wagon Wheel Gap and U.S. 160.  This is for residents of Creede and those areas not evacuated along Colo. 149 near the Papoose Fire.

U.S. 160 from the chain-up area to South Fork remains closed.  Visit www.cotrip.org/roadConditions.htm for more information.

For additional information on road and trail closures affecting the San Juan National Forest go to: http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/sanjuan/alerts-notices.

For additional information on road and trail closures affecting the Rio Grande National Forest go to: West Fork Fire Closures.

Fire statistics 

Location:  14.5 miles north/northeast of Pagosa Springs.

Start date: June 5, 2013. Cause: lightning.

Complex size:  79,182 acres.

Percent Contained: 0 percent.

Windy Pass: 1,355 acres.

Papoose: 23,605 acres.

West Fork: 54,222 acres.

Total personnel: 1,313.

Resources: seven Type 1 hand crews, 30 Type 2 hand crews, 68 engines, one dozer, 14 water tenders and overhead personnel.

Air Resources:  three Type 1 helicopters, three Type 2 helicopters, and five Type 3 helicopters.


Website: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3436/.

Twitter: Follow the Rocky Mountain IMT at @rmt1pio.

Facebook:  The Rocky Mountain IMT has a Facebook page dedicated to thank yous to the firefighters working on the fire line.  Visit the page at www.facebook.com/RockyMtn.Type1.IMT.PIOs.

This story was posted on June 25, 2013.