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West Fork Complex situation report, June 24

Papoose Fire: Yesterday, the fire continued to back down towards Colo. 149. Firefighters were successful in keeping the fire from impacting structures and, to date, no confirmed structures have been damaged or destroyed. Today, firefighters will continue structure protection along the northern perimeter of the Papoose Fire and north along Colo. 149 in the event that the fire pushes to the north. On the northwest side, the fire has slopped over the Rio Grande Reservoir Road (FSR 520). Additional resources have been assigned to this area in an effort to keep the fire from moving north.

East Zone of West Fork Fire: Today firefighters, with assistance from air resources, will continue to work along U.S. 160 to keep the fire in check as it moves towards the highway.  A dozer line has been created between the eastern edge of the fire and the community of South Fork. Firefighters will work to improve and reinforce the line today. Along Colo. 149, firefighters will continue to clear vegetation and provide structure protection to structures west of the highway. East of Colo. 149, near South Fork, structure protection is in place in the event that the fire pushes to the east and spots across the highway. To date, no confirmed structures have been damaged or destroyed in this zone.

West Zone of West Fork Fire: The West Zone of the West Fork Fire is the portion of the fire burning south of the continental divide. The segment on the south end of the fire that made a run up the backside of Sheep Mountain turned north yesterday, burning back towards the main body of the fire. There is still concern that burning in this area could move to the west, posing a threat to U.S. 160. Firefighters did a structure protection assessment in the Bruce Spruce Campground along West Fork Road yesterday and will be establishing a sprinkler system to protect the structures in that area today.  Structure protection remains in place for Borns Lake.

Windy Pass Fire: The Windy Pass Fire made a run in the Lane Creek drainage, but it did not gain much in acreage since a good portion of the fire activity was within the existing fire perimeter. The fire went from 987 acres yesterday to 1,244 acres this morning. It did not cross over into the Wolf Creek Ski Area. Firefighters have been able to hold the Windy Pass Fire within the established indirect containment lines protecting the Wolf Creek Ski Area.

Weather: Another Red Flag Warning is in effect today due to low relative humidity, gusty winds, and a Haines Index of 6. Winds are predicted to be out of the southwest 15-25 mph gusting to 35. Wind gusts could reach 50 mph on the ridge tops.  Relative humidity will be 11-16 percent, and the Haines Index is 6. The Haines Index measures the stability and dryness of the air over the fire. A Haines Index of 6 indicates that there is a high potential for extreme fire behavior, intensity, and growth.

Evacuations and closures: No additional closures or evacuations have been issued. Beginning today at 9 a.m., 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.

Highway 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.

Special Message: An air quality monitor has been set up in Del Norte. The monitor is used to measure the effects of the smoke in the area. The readings the monitor takes can be viewed at http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/rawMAIN.pl?idsmf1. Documents explaining the readings will be posted on Inciweb at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3436/.

This story was posted on June 24, 2013.