West Fork Complex Fire: July 12

Special Message Update: Forest Service Road 520 to the Rio Grande Reservoir is now open.

Current Situation

As of 8 PM last night command of both the East & West Zones of the complex have been assumed by the Great Basin Incident Management Team 1.

Last night much of the complex received measurable precipitation around two tenths of an inch, mainly North of the Continental Divide of the West Fork Fire and the Papoose Fire.

Weather (North of the Continental Divide)

The relative humidity will be slightly increased today. There will be a chance for isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon. Winds are expected to be 8-12 mph, with gusts up to 20 mph. The extended outlook includes the chance for scattered thunderstorms over the next few days and flash flood watches in place from noon to 9 PM in all three fire areas.

Papoose Fire

Continued scattered interior heat on the fire is being monitored, while the lines look good overall. The fire will continue to be in monitoring and mop up status. Afternoon west-southwest winds on ridge tops could result in isolated fire activity. Structure protection will remain in place where appropriate. Last night’s rainfall estimated at two tenths of an inch may produce small ash flows in drainages.

Additionally, a new lighting strike fire was spotted near Humphries above the 4U R Ranch which was quickly located and contained by fire crews already assigned to the complex.

West Fork Fire (North of the Continental Divide)

There are minimal areas of heat on this part of the fire. Monitoring and patrol will be in place on hot areas of the fire. This fire is not anticipated to be influenced by ridge top winds this afternoon. Crews will be available for initial attack if needed.

Increasing monsoon moisture that began midweek will continue to move across the area through the weekend and into early next week. Firefighters will continue to monitor, patrol and start to haul back excess equipment and trash from the fireline. Main objectives today will be continuing to patrol and monitor for fire activity and readiness for any new fires to assist both national forests. Weather permitting, aerial monitoring and initial attack will continue.

West Fork Fire (South of the Continental Divide)

As fire activity is low and weather conditions continue to remain favorable, firefighters will work to clean up the local area. By the end of shift today, it is anticipated that all equipment, flagging and signage will have been recovered from the firelines and surrounding areas. This equipment will be returned for rehabilitation and ready for use on the next incident. Firefighters will continue to patrol the fires are available for Initial Attack as needed. The West Fork Campground is open.

Windy Pass Fire

Eastern side of the fire continues to hold some heat. Monitoring by air will continue today and firefighters will continue to patrol and monitor the fire area. A resource advisor from the forest will be traveling near the fireline to assess firefighting impacts.

Public Health and Safety

You can expect to see smoke across parts of the fire for the next several days to weeks. The past couple of days smoke has been noted coming from the East Fork of Trout Creek and settling down into the valley below. 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.

Evacuations and Closures

The San Juan National Forest has announced that the East Fork Road (FS Road #667) from the East Fork Campground to its eastern terminus at FS Road #380 at Elwood Pass will be reopened along with the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (FS Trail #813) from the East Fork Road at Elwood Pass north and west to its junction with Highway 160 will be reopened and the Silver Creek Trail (FS Trail #567), which starts off the East Fork Road, will be reopened. For additional information on road and trail closures and fire restrictions affecting the San Juan National Forest go to: http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/sanjuan/alerts-notices.  Additional information on road and trail closures and fire restrictions affecting the Rio Grande National Forest go to: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/riogrande/.

Fire Statistics

  • Location: 14.5 miles north/northeast of Pagosa Springs, CO 
  • Start Date: 06/05/2013
  • Complex Size: 109,610 acres 
  • Windy Pass: 1,417 acres
  • Papoose: 49,628 acres
  • West Fork: 58,570 acres
  • Percent Contained: 32%
  • Cause: Lightning
  • Total Personnel: 623
  • Resources Include: 1 Type-1 hand crews * (a second Type-1 hand crew was reassigned early this morning to another fire.) 10 Type-2 hand crews, 24 engines, 1 dozers, 7 water tenders, and 220 overhead personnel.
  • Air Resources: 3 Type-1 helicopters, 2 Type-2 helicopters, and 2 Type 3-helicopters.
  • Information Traplines:  Today will be the final day the fire information team will posting fire information updates and maps at the over 80 businesses & government offices in Lake City, Creede, Monte Vista, South Fork, Del Norte and Pagosa Springs. Beth Lund’s Great Basin Incident management Team 1 would like to thank all the communities for their kind support of our firefighters and the 80 businesses and agencies for assisting us in sharing the changing status of this incident with the visitors and residents of this beautiful area.

For more information

Blog: http://westforkfirecomplex.blogspot.com/ | Website: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3436/
Twitter: @RioGrandeUSFS | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreatBasin
Photos: http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/WestForkComplex/library/

Information provided by:

Great Basin Incident Management Team 1 – Beth Lund, Incident Commander
Fire Information Phone: 719-569-4149
Hours of operation: 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Email: WestForkFire.EastZone@gmail.com