West Fork Fire Update: June 29

This update provided by West Fork Public Information Officers.

Special Message

The Colorado Department of Transportation reopened US 160 over Wolf Creek Pass thismorning at 6:00 am. If fire activity warrants, the highway could be re-closed, so travelers are urged to check road conditions at www.cotrip.org for updated road information. 

Fire Information Meetings

The following fire information meetings will be held:
Del Norte: Daily briefing at the Red Cross Shelter in Del Norte at 9 am
South Fork: Saturday June 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm at the Community Hall
Pagosa Springs: Saturday June 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm at the Community Center 

Current Situation

East Zone of the West Fork Complex (Includes Papoose and Eastern Part of West Fork Fires)

The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team has added a swing shift to their operations. Fourteen engines and three hand crews staffed both fires in the east zone through the night. The infrared flight that provides us with the most current imagery of the fire perimeter was cancelled last night due to weather.

Papoose Fire

Last night firefighters continued to provide structure protection near the Rio Grande Reservoir,Crooked Creek, and Trout Creek on the north half of the fire. There is still no known structure loss. Today firefighters will again focus on the areas of the fire where structures could be impacted. They will also begin  and prepare structures east of the Papoose Fire, along Highway 149, in the event that the fire continues to move to the east.

Eastern Part of West Fork Fire

Firefighters will continue to focus on areas where the fire is most active andstructures could be impacted. These areas include Lake Humphreys, Metroz Lake, and along Highway 149 near Elk Mountain. Crews will work to tie together existing fuel breaks (i.e. meadows, roads, etc.) in an effort todiminish fire behavior. East of Highway 149, firefighters continue to evaluate and prepare structures in theevent that the fire crosses the highway. Google Earth is being used to create an application that will allowfirefighters to quickly identify the location of structures in that area.

West Zone of West Fork Complex (Includes Western Part of West Fork and Windy Pass Fires)

A change in wind direction and an inversion yesterday brought heavy smoke into the San Juan River Valley and Pagosa Springs area. The inversion held the smoke, and high winds and smoky conditions that persisted throughout the day. Fire continues to burn in timber that is dead due to Spruce Beetle kill.The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has installed a portable tower at the Durango Airport due to the volume of aircraft flying in the area in support of the fires.

Western Part of 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 continued near the Born Lake cabins. Structure protection is still in place for Bruce Spruce Resort, which is still open, and hose lays and sprinkler system are in place and operational in the West Fork Campground that is also open.

Windy Pass Fire

Activity on the Windy Pass Fire yesterday was minimal. Crews worked around Lane Creek and bucket drops were done throughout the day.


High pressure will move farther to the west allowing stronger winds from the northwest to moveover the complex. Thunderstorm chances continue across the complex with lightning, gusty winds, and rain possible. An unstable atmosphere will continue through the middle of next week keeping the chance of thunderstorms in the forecast.

Public Health and Safety

Smoke monitors are in place in Del Norte and Creede. For the official ColoradoSmoke Outlook visit http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/colo_advisory.aspx and http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/wildfire.aspx for further health advisory information.Please use caution when traveling along Highways 149 and 160. Heavy fire traffic can be expected along thehighways and within the communities of South Fork, Creede, and Del Norte. Please do not stop along the roadsto take pictures of the fire or firefighters as doing so could impede fire operations.

Evacuations and Closures

Yesterday, most residents of South Fork were able to return home. Anyone west of Highway 149 or the Rio Grande River (whichever is closest to the fire) remain under mandatory evacuation.This includes Elk Park and the portion of Masonic Park west of the river.

All other evacuations remain in effect.Those residents who were able to return home were reminded that if fire activity increases, they may have to re-evacuate. Along Highway 149, traffic is being escorted between Wagon Wheel Gap and Highway 160.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. Emergency closures in place due to the West Fork Fire Complex currently affect about 50 miles of the ColoradoTrail on the Rio Grande National Forest and about 150 miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail on both the Rio Grande and San Juan national forests. These trail sections are closed to all public entry betweenSan Luis Pass north of Creede, Stony Pass east of Silverton and Elwood Pass northeast of Pagosa Springs, asidentified within the closure orders. For more information, contact the Rio Grande National Forest at 719-852-5941. For additional information on road and trail closures affecting the Rio Grande National Forest go to:West Fork Fire Closures. 

Media Briefings

There are no scheduled media briefings.

If media are interested in a briefing or interview, please contact the East Zone Information Office.

Fire Statistics

  • Location: 14.5 miles north/northeast of Pagosa Springs, CO
  • Start Date: 06/05/2013
  • Complex Size: 90,806 acres
    • Windy Pass: 1,411 acres
    • Papoose: 33,022 acres
    • West Fork: 56,373 acres
  • Percent Contained: 2%
  • Cause: Lightning 
  • Total Personnel: 1436
  • Resources Include: 9 Type 1 hand crews, 20 Type 2 hand crews, 109 engines, 2 dozers, 13 water tenders, and overhead personnel
  • Air Resources: 7 Type 1 helicopters, 3 Type 2 helicopters, 10 Type 3 helicopters, and 2 single engine airtankers (SEATS)

Places to get information:

Website: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3436/
Twitter: @rmt1pio
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RockyMtn.Type1.IMT.PIOs.
Information Boards: Information is posted at the Pagosa Springs Visitor Information Center, Freemons Ranchnear Creede, the Forest Service office in Creede, and at the Red Cross Shelter in Del Norte.
Photos: http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/WestForkComplex/library/###