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Minimal fire growth west of Divide on Tuesday, 81,331 acres, 0-percent containment

There was minimal fire growth yesterday in the West Zone of the West Fork Complex (includes western Part of West Fork and Windy Pass Fires).

There were some flare-ups in pockets of unburned bug-killed spruce and continuing, smoldering ground fires in the heavy dead fuels.

Most of this activity was interior to the existing fire perimeter.

With the high pressure moving in expect smoke to linger in the valleys longer during the morning.

The West Zone of the West Fork fire is the portion of the fire burning south of the Continental Divide. Yesterday, there was spotty fire activity on the south flank of the fire above Born’s Lake and the fire made a short run, burning in bug-killed spruce up a drainage interior to the fire perimeter.  Structure protection sprinklers are installed at Bruce Spruce Resort and firefighters will be evaluating and implementing structure protection needs for additional structures on West Fork Road today.  Portions of the sprinkler system at Born’s Lake were run yesterday to increase humidity and fuel moisture around the Born’s lake structures.

Activity on the Windy Pass Fire yesterday was minimal.  The Windy Pass Fire only grew by 26 acres, going from 1,355 acres to 1,381.  With the decrease in wind intensity, the immediate threat to Wolf Pass Ski Area has diminished.  Fire managers are looking at possibly putting in a line with retardant to check the fire spread to the east today or tomorrow.

East Zone of the West Fork Complex (includes Papoose and eastern part of West Fork Fires):  Papoose Fire:  Fire activity increased on the northwest flank of the fire last night about shift change.  The fire has burned down into Crooked Creek, and firefighters from both shifts worked diligently to protect structures as the fire pushed into the area.  The night shift resources continued to work in this area through the night and as of this morning there is no known structure loss.  Today, firefighters will continue to provide structure protection in the Crooked Creek area and will mop up along Colo. 149.

Eastern part of the West Fork Fire: On the southeast flank, along U.S. 160, aerial resources will continue to keep the fire north of the highway.  On the northeast side, near Sentinel Peak, firefighters will continue to improve the dozer line that is in place to minimize the chances of the fire reaching South Fork.  Near Lake Humphreys and Metroz Lake, crews will continue to provide structure protection.  Along Colo. 149, structure protection continues on both sides of the highway.

Weather: High pressure will keep skies mostly sunny and winds below the ridge tops throughout the day.  With the lack of strong winds, smoke will linger in the valleys this morning.  Winds are predicted to be out of the northwest at 5-15 mph with gusts to 20 mph.  The chance of thunderstorms will increase through the week.

Evacuations and closures:  No additional closures or evacuations have been issued.  Local traffic from Creede is being escorted between Wagon Wheel Gap and U.S. 160.

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:  81,331 acres. Windy Pass: 1,381 acres; Papoose: 25,236 acres; West Fork: 54,714 acres.

Percent contained: 0.

Total personnel: 1,187.

This story was posted on June 26, 2013.