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Firefighting efforts continue in West Fork Fire Complex

Posted: Monday, Jun 24th, 2013

This updated information is from the Incident Information System, InciWeb.

VALLEY The West Fork Complex consisting of three wildfires, West Fork, Windy Pass, and Papoose, continues to burn on the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests. All fires are burning in steep, rugged terrain with large amounts of beetle-killed spruce which makes it difficult and unsafe for firefighters to mount a direct attack.

Current Situation as of Monday morning, June 24:

Papoose Fire: Activity on the Papoose Fire occurred primarily on the west and northwest flanks. Firefighters made good progress on evaluating and protecting structures along the northern perimeter of the fire. On the northeast side, where the fire has burned into the floodplain, firefighters are continuing to hold it south of Highway 149. A spike camp has been established for the firefighters working on the Papoose Fire in order to reduce travel times.

East Zone of West Fork Fire: The majority of the fire activity that was visible today occurred southwest of Metroz Mountain. This area of the fire started as two fingers that have grown together on the east side. A large island of unburned vegetation between the fingers burned today. The smoke plume created by the burning affected local winds, reducing fire activity on the east flank of the fire. Firefighters made good progress on evaluating and establishing protective measures for structures along Highways 149 and 160.

West Zone of West Fork Fire: The West Zone of the West Fork fire is the portion of the fire burning south of the continental divide. The segment on the south end of the fire that made a run up the backside of Sheep Mountain yesterday turned north today burning back towards the main body of the fire reducing the threat to Highway 160. Firefighters did a structure protection assessment in the Bruce Spruce Campground along West Fork Road today and are looking at establishing a sprinkler system to protect the structures in that area tomorrow.

Windy Pass Fire: The Windy Pass Fire made a run up the Lane Creek drainage into the alpine. It did not cross over into the Wolf Creek Ski Area. Firefighters have been able to hold the Windy Pass Fire within the established indirect containment lines protecting the Wolf Creek Ski Area.

Weather: This is the fifth day in a row that the complex has been under a Red Flag Warning. Wind gusts reaching 50 mph were reported on the ridgetops with gusts to 35 mph at lower elevations. Relative humidity was reported in the teens dropping to single digits. Another Red Flag Warning has been issued for tomorrow.

Evacuations and Closures: There are multiple evacuations and pre-evacuations in effect for the fire area and vicinity. For more information on evacuations please check www.acemergency.org.

There are multiple road and trail closures. The primary closures are Highway 160 from the chain-up area to South Fork, and Highway 149 between South Fork and Creede from milepost 1through mile post 22.

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.

Public Briefing: A briefing for evacuees and affected residents will be held daily at the Red Cross Shelter in Del Norte at 9 a.m.

Website: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3436/

Twitter: Follow the Rocky Mountain IMT @rmt1pio

Facebook: The Rocky Mountain IMT has a Facebook page dedicated to thank yous to the firefighters working on the fire line. Visit the page at https://www.facebook.com/RockyMtn.Type1.IMT.PIOs.

Information Boards: Information is posted at the Pagosa Springs Visitor Information Center. Information boards are being constructed and will be going up at Freemons Ranch near Creede, and the Forest Service office in Creede, and at the Red Cross Shelter in Del Norte.

When You Want to Help Firefighters

When you want to help

In a time of crisis people naturally want to reach out and help. We appreciate those efforts and have developed a list of suggestions.

Most appreciated by firefighters:

√ Thank you notes and banners

√ Donations to Wildland Firefighter Foundation


What we cannot accept:

√ Food items- due to health and federal contract regulations

Note: Local food bank donations tend to decrease when the public chooses to donate their food to fire camp- we feed our assigned fire crews three meals a day including snacks.

The Best Suggestions:

√ Join or support your local volunteer fire department or emergency organizations- they need your generosity since they are the first responders in many cases.

√ Donate to local charitable organizations like the Red Cross.

√ DEFENSIBLE SPACE AROUND YOUR HOME- give emergency responders and yourself a safe area to retreat to or to defend your home in.

√ For other ways to volunteer or make donations dial 2-1-1 or visit http://helpcoloradonow.com/

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