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West Fork Complex fires now 7 percent contained, complex size 94,476 acres

With the Fourth of July weekend ahead, motorists can expect to see firefighting traffic along U.S. 160 and Colo. 149. Please watch your speed.

Current situation

West Zone of West Fork Complex (Includes western part of West Fork and Windy Pass fires):

Firefighters are removing excess equipment and are prepared to respond to any new fire starts that may have occurred during the past few days. As firefighters secure the West Zone, aviation resources will be repositioned to other areas of the fire and are available to support ground resources when requested. As July 4 festivities draw closer, there is increased traffic on the roads. Firefighters and the public are asked to be careful when driving.

The San Juan National Forest is at Stage II Fire Restrictions starting today, July 2. Archuleta County remains at Stage 1. Additional information can be found on the San Juan National Forest’s website: www.fs.usda.gov/main/sanjuan/home.

West Zone West Fork Fire/Windy Pass: The West Zone of the West Fork fire is the portion of the fire burning south of the continental divide. Structure protection is still in place for the Wolf Creek Ski Area, Born’s Lake Cabins, and Bruce Spruce Resort. The West Fork Campground is open. Crews completed backhauling excess firefighting equipment at Born’s Lake, Bruce Spruce and Wolf Creek. On Windy Pass, firefighters are removing excess equipment from the fire area, and continue to patrol and monitor the fire area.

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

The strategies for operations on the fire include continuing point protection for structures and high value resources, monitoring, and confining the fire in areas where it will not pose an issue for the local area during the remainder of the summer.

Papoose Fire: Last night, firefighters were able to take advantage of the humidity recover overnight, allowing them to continue mop up in areas where heat around structures still remained. Humidity is a measure of the amount of moisture in the air. Today, firefighters will continue mopping up around structures and start confining the northern part of the fire, from the Rio Grande Reservoir around the north and then south, along Colo. 149. Falling trees in some areas of the fire are creating an unsafe situation and firefighters are avoiding those areas. Fire intensity is expected to increase in the next few days, especially in areas of gusty winds due to thunderstorms. Some burn out will take place in areas where wind will help keep fire spread away from structures. This will help to even out the fire line and achieve confinement.

Eastern part of West Fork Fire: Firefighters will continue achieving confinement of the fire from Humphreys Lake, moving north and then around the Elk Mountain area, moving south along U.S. 160. Firefighters will monitor the areas of the fire that are inaccessible.

Isolated thunderstorms are expected today, but those that do build up will have little or no precipitation reaching the ground. Lightning and gusty, erratic winds will accompany any of the thunderstorms today. Temperatures will be just a few degrees warmer than Monday. The remainder of the week will show a similar weather pattern.

Smoke monitors are in place in Pagosa Springs, Freemon’s Ranch, and Creede and can be accessed through the map located at www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/smoke.pl. Times displayed are in GMT — subtract six hours to get local time (MDT). For the official Colorado Smoke Outlook, visit www.colorado.gov/airquality/colo_advisory.aspx and www.colorado.gov/airquality/wildfire.aspx for further health advisory information.

Use caution when traveling along Colo. 149 and U.S. 160. Heavy fire traffic can be expected along the highways and within the communities of South Fork, Creede and Del Norte. Reduced speed is posted on U.S. 160. Do not stop along the roads to take pictures of the fire or firefighters as doing so could impede fire operations.

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

For additional information on road and trail closures affecting the Rio Grande National Forest go to www.fs.usda.gov/detail/riogrande/notices/?cid=STELPRDB5143145.

Fire statistics

Location: 14.5 miles north/northeast of Pagosa Springs.

Start date: 06/05/2013.

Cause: Lightning.

Complex Size: 94,476 acres.

Percent contained: 7 percent.

Windy Pass: 1,417 acres.

Papoose: 36,510 acres.

West Fork: 56,549 acres.

Total personnel: 1,464.

Resources include: 8 Type 1 hand crews, 20 Type 2 hand crews, 82 engines, 5 dozers, 13 water tenders, and overhead personnel

Air resources: 6 Type 1 helicopters, 4 Type 2 helicopters, and 10 Type 3 helicopters.

Places to get information:

Blog: http://westforkfirecomplex.blogspot.com/.

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

Twitter: @rmt1pio.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RockyMtn.Type1.IMT.PIOs.

This story was posted on July 2, 2013.