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West Fork Complex update, July 8: 110,405 acres, 19 percent contained

Monday, July 8, 12:15 p.m.

Correction: An earlier update listed Crooked Creek Subdivision as still under mandatory evacuation. It is not. It is the Wilderness Ranch Subdivision that remains evacuated.

Special Messages: A community meeting will be held in Creede, Colorado this Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. to give a fire update and address any questions from citizens. It will be at the Creede High School at 308 La Garita Street (map: http://goo.gl/maps/Dagip).

With monsoon rains expected soon, there may be an increased risk of flash flooding, debris flows and other impacts within and downstream of the burned areas. Residents and visitors are urged to stay aware of their surroundings during rain events and do not drive or walk through areas that have flooded.

Current situation

Weather (East Zone): A drying trend will begin today and continue through at least Tuesday with only isolated thunderstorms possible across the fire. Wind gusts from these storms can be as high as 35-40 miles per hour.

East Zone of the West Fork Complex (includes Papoose Fire and Eastern Part of West Fork Fires):

Crews will continue patrolling and monitoring the fire perimeter, taking direct action when and where they can safely do so, and when needed to prevent the fire’s spread toward homes or other values. Significant amounts of moisture fell on some areas of the West Fork Fire Sunday, which will dampen fire activity today. However other areas received little or no rain and with drier, and at times windier conditions predicted today and tomorrow, firefighters have been reminded to be cautious. There are numerous spruce and aspen “snags” across all areas of the fire — trees with weakened or burned away root systems that can fall at any time. At this morning’s daily briefing, Safety Officer Paul Gauchy cautioned that, “Those snags are weaker today than they were yesterday, and a lot weaker than they were last week.” It’s a reminder residents and visitors should keep in mind when they eventually return to areas impacted by the fire.

Papoose Fire: With conditions drying out and gusty winds, the fire may be more active and smoke may be visible in some areas of the Papoose fire, including the Colo. 149 corridor north and west of Creede.

Eastern Part of West Fork Fire: Substantial amounts, up to one half inch, of rain, fell over parts of the fire Sunday, which should slow the fire’s activity today.

West Zone of West Fork Complex (includes Western Part of West Fork and Windy Pass Fires):

Weather (West Zone): A stagnant and strong high pressure over the area will slowly make westerly movement over the next couple of days. This shift will cause change in fire behavior: firefighters are expecting lower relative humidity and warmer temperatures and the effects that will take on the fuels.

Firefighters will continue to patrol and monitor and are ready to respond to any new fire activity. Weather permitting, aerial monitoring will continue. The new starts that occurred on Saturday near Shaw and Bear Creek on the western side of Williams Lake Reservoir area are contained.

West Zone West Fork Fire: 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, Borns Lake Cabins, and Bruce Spruce Resort. The West Fork Campground is open.

Windy Pass Fire: Eastern side of the fire continues to hold some heat. Monitoring by air will continue today and firefighters will continue to patrol and monitor the fire area.

Williams Creek Contingency Group: Firefighters will continue structure protection, patrol and monitor for new starts.

Public Health and Safety: Smoke monitors are in place in Pagosa Springs, Freemon’s Ranch, Creede, and South Fork. The monitors are identified as #78 (Creede), #69 (Freemon’s Ranch), #25 (South Fork), and #65 (Pagosa Springs). All monitors can be accessed through the map located at: http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/smoke.pl. Times displayed are in GMT – subtract 6 hours to get local time (MDT). For the Colorado Smoke Outlook, visit http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/colo_advisory.aspx or http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/wildfire.aspx for more information.

Evacuations and Closures: Some mandatory and pre-evacuation areas are being lifted as of 6 p.m, today. Areas around the Wilderness Ranch subdivision, Red Mountain Ranch and Humphreys Lake will remain under mandatory evacuation and the Spar City area will remain on pre-evacuation notice. An updated map showing the changes in status will be posted to the fire update blog and InciWeb later today (see links below). Residents are reminded to remain vigilant and be prepared to evacuate in the event that fire activity changes.

For additional information on road and trail closures and fire restrictions 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 and fire restrictions affecting the Rio Grande National Forest go to: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/riogrande/.

Fire statistics  

Location: 14.5 miles north/northeast of Pagosa Springs.

Start Date: 06/05/2013.

Cause: Lightning.

Complex Size: 110,405 acres.

West Fork: 59,932 acres.

Windy Pass: 1,417 acres.

Papoose: 49,056 acres.

Percent Contained: 19 percent.

Total Personnel: 817.

Resources Include: 4 Type 1 hand crews, 8 Type 2 hand crews, 40 engines, 2 dozers, 20 water tenders, and overhead personnel.

Air Resources: 4 Type 1 helicopters, 2 Type 2 helicopters, and 4 Type 3 helicopters.

For more information:

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

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

Twitter: @RioGrandeUSFS | Photos: http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/WestForkComplex/library/

This story was posted on July 8, 2013.