Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fire Update June 28 PM

West Fork Complex Fire Update

Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team- Pete Blume, Incident Commander     
Phoenix National Incident Management Organization- Curtis Heaton, Incident Commander
Joint Information Center:  719-569-4149 or 719-657-3279
Hours of operation: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
West Zone Email:  

June 28, 2013
8:00 pm                      

Special Message:  This morning, most residents of South Fork were able to return home.  Anyone west of Highway 149 or the Rio Grande River (whichever is closest to the fire) remain under mandatory evacuation.  This includes Elk Park and the portion of Masonic Park west of the river.  Those residents who were able to return home were reminded that if fire activity increases, they may have to re-evacuate.

The Colorado Department of Transportation intends to reopen US 160 over Wolf Creek Pass tomorrow morning at 6:00 am.  If fire activity warrants, the highway could be re-closed, so travelers are urged to check road conditions at for updated road information. 

Public Information: Please do not call 911 unless it is an actual emergency.  If you have questions about the status of the West Fork Complex, please contact the Joint Information Center at the above phone numbers. 

The following fire information meetings will be held over the next several days: 
Del Norte: Daily briefing at the Red Cross Shelter in Del Norte at 9 am
South Fork:  Saturday June 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm at the Community Hall
Pagosa Springs:  Saturday June 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm at the Community Center

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

The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team has added a swing shift to their operations.  Adding the third shift allows for an on time transition between day and night forces and for adequate staffing during the times when the fires are most likely to be active. 

Papoose Fire:  On the northwest flank, the fire continues to be active in Crooked Creek.  Late yesterday, several spot fires of 5 – 20 acres developed in the Hermit Lakes area.  Today, firefighters focused on structure protection and worked on the spot fires that occurred with yesterday’s extreme fire behavior.  This afternoon the east flank of the fire was active as the fire pushed to the south near Baldy Mountain.  Firefighters continued to evaluate and provide structure protection in the Trout Creek area.

Eastern Part of West Fork Fire: The fire continues to be active near Metroz Lake and Elk Mountain on the east side.  At Lake Humphreys and Metroz Lake, firefighters continue to provide structure protection.  Near Elk Mountain, firefighters are utilizing a combination of hand line, dozer line, hose lays, and aircraft as delaying tactics to slow the progression of the fire as it moves towards a more defensible position on the lower slopes.  

West Zone of West Fork Complex (Includes Western Part of West Fork and Windy Pass Fires)
A change in wind direction and an inversion brought heavy smoke into the San Juan River Valley and Pagosa Springs area yesterday evening. The inversion held the smoke throughout today.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is installing a portable tower at the Durango Airport due to the volume of aircraft flying in the area in support of the fires.

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. There was a run today near the Born Lake cabins, firefighters had to leave the site, but no structures were lost.  Structure protection is still in place for Bruce Spruce Resort, which is still open, and hose lays and sprinkler system are in place and operational in the West Fork Campground that is also open.

Windy Pass Fire:  Activity on the Windy Pass Fire today was minimal.  Crews will be re-enforcing and maintaining existing contingency lines during the day today.         
Weather:  A Red Flag warning today caused high winds and smoky conditions that persisted throughout the day.  Thunderstorms are predicted for tonight, with a 40% chance of rain, lightning and gusty winds being the primary concerns. 

Smoke:  Smoke monitors are in place in Del Norte and Creede.   For the official Colorado Smoke Outlook visit and for further health advisory information.

Evacuations and Closures:  Evacuations were lifted for much of Rio Grande County.  Evacuations are still in effect for those areas in Mineral and Hinsdale Counties.  Along Highway 149, traffic is being escorted between Wagon Wheel Gap and Highway 160. 

For additional information on road and trail closures affecting the San Juan National Forest go to: 

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.   

Media Briefings:  There are no scheduled media briefings.  If media are interested in a briefing or interview, please contact the East Zone Information Office.

Fire Statistics:
Location:  14.5 miles north/northeast of Pagosa Springs, CO             
Start Date: 06/05/2013
Percent Contained: 2%
Cause:  Lightning        
Complex Size:  90,056 acres                                                              
                Windy Pass: 1,411 acres                                                                     
                Papoose: 32,272 acres                                                             
                West Fork: 56,373 acres                                                                                             
Total Personnel: 1436

Resources Include: 9 Type 1 hand crews, 20 Type 2 hand crews, 109 engines,  2 dozers, 13 water
tenders, and overhead personnel

Air Resources:  7 Type 1 helicopters, 3 Type 2 helicopters, 10 Type 3 helicopters, and 2 single engine
airtankers (SEATS)

Places to get information:
Twitter: @rmt1pio
Information Boards:  Information is posted at the Pagosa Springs Visitor Information Center, Freemons Ranch near Creede, the Forest Service office in Creede, and at the Red Cross Shelter in Del Norte. 


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