VALLEY — Firefighters continue to attack the West Fork Complex Fire, which encompassed more than 106,600 acres by yesterday and was 16 percent contained.
The fire complex, consisting of multiple fires, started a month ago today on June 5 with a lightning strike.
Fire activity increased on Wednesday 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 occurred on Thursday. 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 were planned again on the Fourth of July, to allow firefighters the opportunity to even out the fire line and achieve confinement.
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.
On the eastern part of the 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.
On the west zone of the West Fork Fire, 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.
Firefighters continue to patrol and monitor the Windy Pass Fire area.
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.
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.
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.