Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fire Update July 4 AM

West Fork Complex Fire Update

Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team- Pete Blume, Incident Commander     
Central Coast Interagency Incident Management Team 7 – Mark Nunez, Incident Commander
East Zone Phone:  719-569-4149
West Zone Phone: 970-731-2432
Hours of operation: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
West Zone Email:

July 4, 2013
9:00 am                      

Special Messages:  Fire Restrictions for the Rio Grande National Forest have increased to Stage II. To find out more information, go to or call 719-852-6271.

Stay safe during the 4th of July holiday.  Please adhere to fire restrictions in your area, especially those associated with fireworks. 

The Joint Information Center closed as of last evening due to call volume slowing down.  For fire information, please contact the appropriate Zone office.  For Papoose and West Fork – East Zone, please call or email the East Zone; for Windy Pass and West Fork – West Zone, please call or email the West Zone.  Contact information listed above.  

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 a threat to local communities during the remainder of the summer. 

Papoose Fire:  Yesterday, fire activity increased in the southeast corner of Papoose, spreading in areas of beetle-killed spruce and old logging slash.  Smoke and ash were observed in Pagosa Springs.  Sustained winds at 20 miles per hour, from the north and northwest, pushed the fire into Copper Creek, west of Red Mountain Ranch. The fire was burning deep into the interior and was not a threat to structures.  Similar weather and extreme fire behavior is expected again today.  As long as the fire continues to burn in these stands of dead spruce, smoke will be more typical.  Falling trees in some areas of the fire continue to create an unsafe situation and firefighters are avoiding those areas.  Burn out operations along some of the meadows near Highway 149 is planned again today which will allow firefighters the opportunity to even out the fire line and achieve confinement. 

Eastern Part of West Fork Fire: Firefighters will continue chipping operations around homes where limbs and brush were cleared so fire hazard is reduced.  Firefighters will continue fireline construction through the Elk Mountain area and monitor areas along Highway 160 where fire remains active.

West Zone of West Fork Complex (Includes Western Part of West Fork and Windy Pass Fires)
Incident Commander Mark Nunez Type 2 Central Coast IMT 7 assumed command of the West Fork Fire West Zone this morning at 6:00 a.m. 

Fourth of July festivities in Pagosa Springs are bringing in up to 10,000 ~ 12,000 visitors over the weekend.  Please be cautious of the fire equipment traffic and come visit us at the Town Park booth.

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:  Firefighters continue to patrol and monitor the fire area.  Forest Service Resource Advisor is continuing to monitor Firefighting efforts in coordination for watershed conservation.

Weather: Isolated thunderstorms are forecasted with winds from the northwest.  Increased moisture will slightly improve chances for wetting rains.  True monsoonal moisture still appears most likely to arrive at the end of next week, which is near average timing for southern Colorado.
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: Times displayed are in GMT – subtract 6 hours to get local time (MDT).  For the official Colorado Smoke Outlook, please visit and 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.  In addition, heavy holiday traffic is expected in the same area, and including Pagosa Springs.  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 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 and fire restrictions affecting the San Juan National Forest go to: 

For additional information on road and trail closures and fire restrictions affecting the Rio Grande National Forest go to:

Fire Information Meetings: None scheduled at this time.

Media Briefings:  There are no scheduled media briefings. 

Fire Statistics:
Location:  14.5 miles north/northeast of Pagosa Springs, CO              Start Date: 06/05/2013          
Complex Size:  106,637 acres                                                             Percent Contained: 16%
Windy Pass: 1,417 acres                                                                       Cause:  Lightning
Papoose: 48,652 acres                                                                           Total Personnel: 1,234
West Fork: 56,568 acres                                                                                             
Resources Include: 7 Type 1 hand crews, 15 Type 2 hand crews, 62 engines, 3 dozers, 13 water tenders, and overhead personnel
Air Resources:  4 Type 1 helicopters, 1 Type 2 helicopters, and 3 Type 3 helicopters.

Places to get information:
Twitter: @rmt1pio
Information Boards:  Information is posted at the Pagosa Springs Visitor Information Center, Freemon's Ranch near Creede, the Forest Service office in Creede, and at the Del Norte High School. 


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