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West Fork Fire complex at 70,257 acres

This is the fifth day in a row that the fire area has been under a Red Flag warning. This morning the size for the West Fork Fire Complex, that now includes the Papoose Fire, is 70,257 acres.

West Zone West Fork Fire: Activity on the West Fork fire, south of the continental divide, was more active yesterday than it has been all week. The fire made a run up the backside of Sheep Mountain to the east and is burning above U.S. 160. Firefighters will be working today to catch any spots along the  U.S. 160 corridor and additional firefighting resources have been brought in to protect private land and structures off of West Fork Road around Borns Lake.

Windy Pass Fire: The Windy Pass Fire, which is currently burning in an area with less-dense vegetation than the other two fires, made a few short runs towards Lane Creek yesterday. Though we have very little growth in Windy Pass Fire, it has the potential to move into the volatile bug-killed vegetation on either the west or east side of the existing perimeter. Firefighters have been able to hold the Windy Pass Fire within the established indirect containment lines protecting the Wolf Creek Ski Area and additional engines to provide protection for the ski resort will be assigned to the fire today.

Evacuations: Pre-evacuation notices are in place for West Fork Road and along East Fork Road.

Closures: Again, there are multiple road and trail closures the primary ones are U.S. 160 from the chain-up area to South Fork, and Colo. 149 between South Fork and Creede from mile post 1 through milepost 22.

This story was posted on June 23, 2013.
  • ksj

    Thanks for the updates! Am praying for you all!

  • bingodingo

    It may be time we examine our Wilderness Forest Fire Fighting policy…So lets begin here:

    In the past we quickly extinguished every fire as quick as we could…Result: forests grew thick and became succeptable to disease and bug infestations ultimately creating unnatural and explosive fire conditions.

    Forest administrators had options to deal with this, the most obvious being to thin ( and let burn more naturally) or not to thin…Forest Administrators decided not to thin.

    The fire situation in the forest continued to get worse just waiting for catastrophe.

    On June 5 a fire starts north of Pagosa and for 8 long days only grows to 25 acres…meanwhile Forest Administrators once again have two obvious options…to put out or let burn.

    Forest Administrators decide to let burn (knowing full well what the surrounding fire conditions and weather forcast was.)

    Now, 10 days later we have a 71,000 acre fire burning out of control…The damage of which (as by now we know all too well) will resemble several thermonuclear hydrogen bombs going off in the middle of the weminuche.

    Now lets examine the consequenses of the above outlined Forest service policy to let wilderness fires burn without thinning first…

    1. The fire is threatening to burn many peoples homes and businesses requiring 10s of millions of dollars worth of government workers/contractors time to try and save, not to mention the gazillions of dollars this will cost everyone in the area via raises in insurance premiums. (Not to mention, God forbid… the lives of these individuals at stake)
    2. It is completely denuding 2 of the most important and ecologically sensitive river systems in Colorado, which will result in massive ash filled mudflows that will kill off the local trout…including the endangered Rio Grande Cutthroat. As well as creating faster melt off conditions lowering critical late spring water supply to local farmers.
    3. 10s of thousands of forest creatures: Elk; bears; deer; pikas etc…are at this very moment running around in circles up there with their fur on fire bleating in pain as puss filled blisters the size of watermelons form all over their bodies not to mention their newly born babies.

    4. After the fire any surviving business in the towns of South Fork, Creede, and Pagosa Springs will be severely damaged or file bankruptcy as they depend solely on fisherman, hikers, and hunters.

    5. Etc..Etc…too many others to think about…

    If you read this far…I will let you come to your own conclusions as to who is right or wrong on this issue…

    • What a Shame

      I’ll tell you my conclusion: It should have been put out quickly right after it started. It is shocking that the decision to let this burn was made after last years Piedra fire. Thinning should be a regular practice. Its much cheaper than fighting these out of control and dangerous blazes. If anything is left to burn, it should only be done during the wet seasons (late fall and early spring) when the weather is most likely to assist with suppression. June is a dry month. Nothing that starts in June should ever be allowed to just burn, but attacked from the start and put out. Ground support is not necessary for air assaults on a fire when it is still small. The evaporation argument is fallacious.
      My other conclusion: There are people who should lose their jobs over this and face possible fines. Once the decision was made to let this burn, the current fire went from being lightning caused to human caused. I hate what this does to the wildlife and waterways. If I was someone who had to evacuate, I would be furious right now, especially if I had livestock.

      • Linda

        who is sleeping at the wheel. Common scence, fire starts…evaluate how big the fire is….if its bigger than an ashtray, then get something that is bigger than the fire to put it out. The fact that Colorado continuesly waits until it’s too late to get the big planes out is just awfull, shame on them for risking peoples lives, live stock and allthe litte creatures crawling on the ground. And these decision makers get paid for this? really? When rules become more important than people then the rules have to be changed and sometimes, instantly. What happens when people become in charge? Do they get too confused with too much data and then become part of the problem? Governemnt, IRS, corporations…put grandma in charge…she’ll put some good old common sense into the equation….

  • cocommon sense

    funny how your liberal tree huggers can’t fix stupid
    I have a neighbor that says the beetle kill wont burn because there’s no fuel in those trees also if you thin a forrest they will all die. Really? Cube farming is not a ghost n agriculture industry

  • pagosasun

    Approve.