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WFCF: Monsoon rains could prompt floods

Posted: Tuesday, Jul 9th, 2013

WFCF Evacuation map, July 8, 2013.

RIO GRANDE/MINERAL COUNTY — Expected seasonal rains are both a blessing and a curse when it comes to fire management.

The West Fork Complex Fire now exceeds 110,400 acres and is nearly 20 percent contained, according to Monday’s incident report, and typical monsoon weather could bring much needed moisture to ease the burn along with an increased risk of flash flooding, debris flows and other impacts within and downstream of the burned area.

Residents and visitors are urged to stay aware of their surroundings during rain events and do not drive or walk through areas that have flooded.

Some mandatory and pre-evacuation areas were lifted yesterday afternoon, according to the incident report. Areas around the Wilderness Ranch subdivision, Red Mountain Ranch and Humphreys Lake will remain under mandatory evacuation and the Spar City area will remain on pre-evacuation notice. Residents are reminded to remain vigilant and be prepared to evacuate in the event that fire activity changes. 

On Saturday, the Type 1 Eastern Great Basin Incident Management Team assumed command of the West Fork Fire East Zone, relieving the Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team.

A small pump house located east of the Rio Grande Reservoir was confirmed as burned on July 5, according to the incident report. It was the first and the only known structure lost in the fire that has been burning for over a month. There had been rumors of a bunkhouse burning, but after further investigation, it was determined it was a pump house that had burned during earlier fire activity.

Resources include 817 personnel, four Type 1 hand crews, eight Type 2 hand crews, 40 engines, two dozers, 20 water tenders, and overhead personnel.

Air resources include four Type 1 helicopters, two Type 2 helicopters, and four Type 3 helicopters.

A community meeting will be held in Creede on Wed., July 10 6 p.m. at the Creede High School to give a fire update and address any questions from citizens.

WFCF situation,

Monday afternoon

East Zone of the West Fork Complex

Includes Papoose Fire and Eastern Part of West Fork Fires 

Crews will continue patrolling and monitoring the fire perimeter, taking direct action when and where they can safely do so, and when needed to prevent the fire’s spread toward homes or other values.  Significant amounts of moisture fell on some areas of the West Fork Fire Sunday, which will dampen fire activity.  However, other areas received little or no rain and with drier, and at times windier conditions predicted today, firefighters have been reminded to be cautious.  

There are numerous spruce and aspen “snags” across all areas of the fire – trees with weakened or burned away root systems and they can fall at any time.

It’s a reminder residents and visitors should keep in mind when they eventually return to areas impacted by the fire.

Eastern Part of West Fork Fire

Substantial amounts, up to one half inch, of rain, fell over parts of the fire Sunday which should slow the fire’s activity.

West Zone of West Fork Complex

Includes Western Part of West Fork and Windy Pass Fires

Firefighters will continue to patrol and monitor and are ready to respond to any new fire activity.  Weather permitting, aerial monitoring will continue.  The new starts that occurred on Saturday near Shaw and Bear Creek on the western side of Williams Lake Reservoir area are contained.

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.

Total West Fork Fire: 59,932 acres                                                                                             

Papoose Fire

49,056 acres                                                             

With conditions drying out and gusty winds, the fire may be more active and smoke may be visible in some areas of the Papoose fire, including the Highway 149 corridor north and west of Creede.

Windy Pass Fire

1,417 acres                                                          

Eastern side of the fire continues to hold some heat.  Monitoring by air will continue today as well as Firefighters continue to patrol and monitor the fire area. 

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: http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/smoke.pl.  Times displayed are in GMT – subtract 6 hours to get local time (MDT).  For the Colorado Smoke Outlook, visit http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/colo_advisory.aspx or http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/wildfire.aspx for more information.

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