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West Fork Fire Complex, July 3: 97,823 acres

West Fork Complex Fire update, July 3, 9 a.m.

Current Situation:

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 protection for structures and high value resources, as well as confining the fire to areas where it will not pose an issue for the local area during the remainder of the summer.

Papoose Fire: 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 where spruce trees have been damaged by beetles. In areas where structure protection has been completed, firefighters will test pumps and sprinklers systems to ensure they are still operational in the event the systems will need to be utilized. Firefighters will continue to confine the northern part of the fire, from the Rio Grande Reservoir around the most northern point, and then south along Colo. 149. Some burn out will take place along meadows, allowing firefighters the opportunity to even out the fire line and achieve confinement.

Eastern part of West Fork Fire: During structure protection of homes in and around the fire, limbs, branches, and other vegetation was removed from around homes, propane tanks and other structures. Firefighters will begin to chip this material so that it is not creating a fire hazard. Also, pumps and sprinkler systems will be tested to ensure they are still operational. In addition, firefighters have built two miles of fireline from Humphreys Lake, moving north towards the Elk Mountain area. Today, fireline construction will continue through the Elk Mountain area. The fire will also be monitored along U.S. 160.

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

Minimal fire growth occurred on the fire last night. The West Fork Wildfire grew by seven acres yesterday. Firefighters will patrol and monitor the fire and are poised to respond to any new fire starts that may have occurred during the past few days.

A transfer of command will take place from an Incident Management Organization (Kleinman) to a Type 2 Incident Management Team, (Nunez) at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning.

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. Crews completed backhauling excess firefighting equipment at Borns Lake, Bruce Spruce and Wolf Creek.

Windy Pass Fire: The fire grew one acre yesterday, creeping on the western flank of the fire where heat remains. Firefighters continue to patrol and monitor the fire area.

Weather: Gusty winds and lightning from thunderstorms will be the main weather concern for today. A gradual change toward conditions favoring better chances for wetting rains will occur into the coming weekend.

Public health and safety: Smoke monitors are in place in Pagosa Springs, Freemon’s Ranch, and Creede, with one monitor yet to be installed at South Fork (on its way). The monitors are identified as #78 (Creede), #69 (Freemon’s Ranch) and #65 (Pagosa Springs). and 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 official Colorado Smoke Outlook, please visit http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/colo_advisory.aspx and http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/wildfire.aspx for further health advisory information.

Please use caution when traveling along highways 149 and 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. Please do not stop along the roads to take pictures of the fire or firefighters as doing so could impede fire operations.

Evacuations and closures: Some communities still remain under evacuation, others on pre-evacuation notice. Residents are reminded to remain vigilant and be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice in the event that fire activity changes. Visit http://westforkfirecomplex.blogspot.com/ for a list of areas currently under evacuation or pre-evacuation. The list will be updated as conditions change.

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: http://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: 97,823 acres

Windy Pass: 1,417 acres

Papoose: 36,511 acres

West Fork: 59,895 acres

Percent Contained: 7 percent

Total Personnel: 1,369

Resources Include: 7 Type 1 hand crews, 17 Type 2 hand crews, 73 engines, 4 dozers, 12 water tenders, and overhead personnel

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

This story was posted on July 3, 2013.
  • mjc

    It is an amazing job that the firefighters are doing, to have a fire this size, and no structures reported lost to the fire. Many prayers to the families of the 19 heros lost in Arizona on Sunday.