West Fork Complex Fire update June 30, 8 a.m., Hwy. 149 is open

June 30, 2013

8 am

Current Situation:

East Zone of the West Fork Complex (Includes Papoose and Eastern Part of West Fork Fires) 

Papoose Fire:  Today firefighters will again focus efforts on the northwest flank of the fire near Crooked Creek.  Two days ago the fire had spotted across Crooked Creek into the area southeast of Hermit Lakes.  Using a combination of dozer lines, hand lines, and water or retardant drops, firefighters will work to contain the spot fires and tie them into the main fire perimeter.  On the east flank, the fire has crossed Trout Creek and is burning in the vicinity of Middle Creek.  Firefighters will continue structure protection and evaluation of structures along Highway 149 east of the fire. Interior flare-ups where the fire is burning in the beetle killed spruce is expected to continue.

Eastern Part of West Fork Fire: The fire continues to be active in the Lake Humphreys and Elk Mountain areas on the north flank of the fire.  Firefighters will again take advantage of natural fuel breaks in an effort to manage the fire spread in a manner that will reduce impacts on structures.  Along Highway 160, firefighters will look for opportunities to secure the fire perimeter in its current location to reduce the chances of the fire reaching the highway.  Evaluation of structures continues east of Highway 149.

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

A change in wind direction and a brief rain yesterday brought little relief on the west part of the West Fork Fire.  Air attack has been grounded the last 2 days due to smoke, but will resume today if conditions allow.  Fire continues to burn in timber that is dead due to Spruce Beetle kill.Western Part of 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 Wolf Creek Ski Area, Borns Lake Cabins, and Bruce Spruce Resort, which is still open, and hose lays and sprinkler systems are in place and operational in the West Fork Campground that is also open. Crews started to backhaul the excess firefighting equipment at Borns Lake, Bruce Spruce and Wolf Creek.

Windy Pass Fire:  Activity on the Windy Pass Fire today was minimal.  Crews completed work around Lane Creek and continue to monitor fire activity there.

Weather: Scattered thunderstorms will develop in the afternoon with moderate to heavy rainfall possible.  This will increase the potential for ash and mudslides in recently burned areas.   Thunderstorms are predicted for the next few days with rain, lightning and winds being the primary concerns.  Winds today will be out of the northwest 5-15 mph, with gusts up to 35 mph.


Public Health and Safety:  Smoke monitors are in place in Pagosa Springs, Del Norte, and Creede.   The monitors are identified as #78 (Del Norte), #69 (Creede) 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 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.  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: Highway 149 is now open.   The evacuation for Wagon Wheel Estates has been changed to pre-evacuation.  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.

Emergency closures in place due to the West Fork Fire Complex currently affect about 50 miles of the Colorado Trail on the Rio Grande National Forest and about 150 miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail on both the Rio Grande and San Juan national forests.  These trail sections are closed to all public entry between San Luis Pass north of Creede, Stony Pass east of Silverton and Elwood Pass northeast of Pagosa Springs, as identified within the closure orders.   For more information, contact the Rio Grande National Forest at 719-852-5941.   For additional information on road and trail closures affecting the Rio Grande National Forest go to: West Fork Fire Closures.

Fire Information Meetings:

Del Norte: Daily briefing at the Red Cross Shelter in Del Norte at 9 am.


Fire Statistics: 

Location:  14.5 miles north/northeast of Pagosa Springs, CO                 Start Date: 06/05/2013

Complex Size:  95,775  acres                                                                Percent Contained: 2%

Windy Pass: 1,416 acres                                                            Cause:  Lightning

            Papoose: 34,272 acres                                                                Total Personnel: 1502

            West Fork: 56,488 acres


Resources Include: 8 Type 1 hand crews, 20 Type 2 hand crews, 109 engines, 5 dozers, 11 water tenders, and overhead personnel

Air Resources:  6 Type 1 helicopters, 3 Type 2 helicopters, 9 Type 3 helicopters, and 2 single engine

airtankers (SEATS)