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Southwest Colorado fire and smoke updates; West Fork Fire 470 acres, 0 percent containment

IMG_5402Smoke and a smoke smell are present in the Archuleta County area this morning.  This defuse smoke is most likely a combination of smoke from the West Fork Fire, as well as smoke from other fires in Colorado and New Mexico.  Conditions will improve with daytime heating.  The smoke should lift, or clear out, between 10 a.m. and noon.  It can be expected that light defuse smoke will be present in the morning for the next few days.  Like today, the smoke will lift each day between 10 a.m. and noon.  Late mornings and afternoons should be smoke free.
For additional information on smoke and associated health mitigation please see: http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/wildfire.aspx
Please do not call 9-1-1 to report an outside smoke haze or an outside small of burning wood, if it is occurring in the morning.  If you see a smoke column (that is not up near wolf creek pass) at any time, please call 9-1-1.

West Fork Fire:  An infrared flight Friday night showed the fire has grown to 470 acres. It is 0% contained. The fire is burning west of the West Fork of the San Juan and West Fork Trail #561. Most of the fire is within the Weminuche Wilderness in steep, rugged terrain with significant amounts of beetle-killed spruce. There are 67 personnel assigned to the fire.

Fire managers are focusing their efforts on securing the south flank of the fire. On Friday, a Type 1 and Type 2 helicopter dropped water along the ridge to the west of Borns Lake in an effort to keep the fire from moving any further to the south and firefighters dug hand line and conducted a small burnout operation to keep the fire from moving on to private lands near Borns Lake. They have also started reducing hazardous fuels and laying hose in case structure protection is needed. There are about 25 cabins in the area; no structures have been lost or damaged.
The bulk of the fire’s growth on Friday was in the Burro Creek drainage and to the north of that area.
Firefighters helped safely evacuate 13 backpackers from along the West Fork Trail and Rainbow Hot Springs. For public and firefighter safety, the West Fork Trail (561) has been closed.
Windy Pass Fire:  This fire is burning on the south side of Hwy. 160 and is estimated at 5-6 acres. It was started by lightning on Thursday.  The fire is approximately 12 miles northeast of Pagosa Springs near the Windy Pass Trail (566). Twenty seven people were working the fire on Friday and an additional 20-person crew is on order.
Photos and maps will be posted on the Archuleta County Emergency information site at www.acemergency.org as they become available.
Red Creek Fire:  This .5 acre fire was burning at the junction of Red Creek and First Fork within the Missionary Ridge burn area of 2002. Vegetation in the area is grass and shrubs with some scattered and ponderosa pine. Firefighters report the fire is creeping through the grass. Three firefighters spent the night on scene and will be joined by an additional four firefighters today. A Type 3 helicopter was assisting firefighters with water drops as needed. The fire was started by lightning on Thursday.
This story was posted on June 15, 2013.