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A Red Flag Warning has again been issued for today, Thursday.
Yesterday, the column of smoke from the West Fork Fire rose to 30,000 feet and the smoke impacted communities as far away as Pueblo, Colo. Flame lengths of over 100 feet high were observed.
No strong inversions are predicted for this morning, so the fires may become active earlier in the day.
The total acreage for the West Fork Fire Complex rose from 4,070 acres Wednesday morning to 12,710 acres as of 12:30 a.m. Thursday morning.
West Fork Fire
The fire more than tripled in size yesterday going from 3,879 acres to 12,001 acres today. The West Fork Fire, burning primarily within the Weminuche Wilderness, generated the majority of the smoke that was seen throughout southern Colorado. The fire continued northwest up the West Fork drainage and to the northeast up the Beaver Creek drainage to the Continental Divide, where in many places it ran into rock. Fire spread to the south was minimal and all structures and cabins at Born’s Lake were not affected by yesterday’s fire activity.
Windy Pass Fire
The Windy Pass Fire, which had not grown much early in the week, gained over 500 acres yesterday, going from 191 acres to 709 acres. The fire has moved to within 1/4 mile of the closest infrastructure at the Wolf Creek Ski Area. The fire is just west of the Continental Divide in an area with sparser vegetation that will allow for some active suppression work by firefighters. Firefighters will attempt to hold the fire south of the Continental Divide and the Wolf Creek Ski Area today. Additional engines have been deployed today to the Ski Area for structure protection to supplement the firefighters already in place. Firefighters will continue to work with Wolf Creek Ski Area on structure protection and mitigation efforts for the area.
The Mineral County sheriff has issued pre-evacuation orders to residents and visitors on the West Fork Road as well as private landowners in the East Fork drainage area on the south side of U.S. 160. A pre-evacuation order does not mean that an evacuation is imminent, however, residents and visitors should be prepared to leave within an hour if an evacuation order is issued.
The East Fork road, beyond the East Fork Campground, is now closed because of the fire emergency. (East Fork CG is still open).