West Fork Fire Complex Update

June 23, 2013
10:00 am

Special Message:  The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team, with Pete Blume as Incident Commander, has been assigned to the east zone of the West Fork Complex.  The Type 1 Team is working in conjunction with the Phoenix National Incident Management Organization (NIMO), with Curtis Heaton as Incident Commander, to manage the three fires that make up the West Fork Complex. Yesterday the Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team spent the day integrating with the NIMO team.  Due to the size and complexity of the complex, it has been divided into two zones with the Continental Divide as the general breaking point.

Current Situation:
Papoose Fire:  The Papoose Fire is the most active of the three fires in the complex.  Today firefighters will focus on evaluating and providing structure protection along the northern perimeter of the fire.  On the north side, the fire has burned into the flat and has crossed the river, but has not crossed Highway 149.  Firefighters working on the Papoose Fire will be staying in a spike camp close to the fire.  

East Zone of West Fork Fire: This zone includes the portion of the West Fork Fire that is on the north side of the Continental Divide.  Today firefighters will focus on evaluating and providing structure protection between the West Fork Fire and Highways 149 and 160 in this zone.  Sprinkler systems will be assembled and put in place as a precaution in the event that fire activity increases in the zone.  Firefighters will also work to remove fuels adjacent to structures to provide additional protection.  Areas west of South Fork are being evaluated for natural fire breaks that can be reinforced and used as control line to minimize the chances of the fire reaching the community.   The fire is still estimated to be 4-5 miles from the town of South Fork.  No structure loss has been documented at this time.

West Zone of West Fork Fire:  Activity on the West Fork Fire, south of the continental divide, was more active yesterday than it has been all week.  The fire made a run up the backside of Sheep Mountain to the east and is burning above Highway 160.  Firefighters will be working today to catch any spots along the 160 corridor and additional firefighting resources have been brought in to protect private land and structures off of the West Fork Road around Borns Lake.

Windy Pass Fire:  The Windy Pass Fire which is currently burning in an area with less dense vegetation than the other two fires, made a few short runs towards Lane Creek yesterday. Though we have very little growth in Windy Pass Fire, it has the potential to move into the volatile bug-killed vegetation on either the west or east side of the existing perimeter.  Firefighters have been able to hold the Windy Pass Fire within the established indirect containment lines protecting the Wolf Pass Ski Area and additional engines to provide protection for the ski resort will be assigned to the fire today.

Weather:  A Red Flag Warning is in effect today due to low relative humidity, strong winds, and a Haines Index of 6.  The Haines Index measures the stability and dryness of the air over the fire.  A Haines Index of 6 indicates that there is a high potential for extreme fire behavior, intensity, and growth.

Evacuations and Closures:  There are multiple evacuations andpre-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 mile post 1 through milepost 22.

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

Media Briefings:  Media briefings will be held at 9 am and 9 pm daily at Centennial Park in Del Norte.

Fire Statistics:​

Location: 14.5 miles north/northeast of Pagosa Springs, CO

Start Date: 06/05/2013​

Complex Size: 70,262 acres​

PercentContained: 0%

Windy Pass: 987 acres​​

Cause: Lightning

Papoose: 19,413 acres​​

Total Personnel: 426 + with more arriving

​West Fork: 49,862 acres​​

Resources Include: 3 Type 1 hand crews, 9 Type 2 hand crews, 31engines, 6 water tenders, and overhead personnel

Air Resources: 3 Type 1 helicopters, 2 Type 2 helicopters, and 4 Type 3 helicopters

Places to get information:

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 onthe 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 theRed Cross Shelter in Del Norte.

Information provided by West Fork Information Officers.