© 2021 KSUT Public Radio
NPR News and Music Discovery for the Four Corners
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

West Fork Fire Complex Update -- June 23, 2013, 9:00 PM

Steve Till
Archuleta County Emergency

The West Fork Complex consists of three wildfires, West Fork, Windy Pass, and Papoose, that are burning on the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests in southwest Colorado. 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. The fires were combined into a complex on Sunday, June 16.

Current Situation:

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 mile post 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 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: 75,150 acres Percent Contained: 0%

Windy Pass: 1244 acres Cause: Lightning

Papoose: 20,927 acres Total Personnel: 895

West Fork: 52,979 acres

Resources Include: 4 Type 1 hand crews, 21 Type 2 hand crews, 50 engines, 10 water tenders, and overhead


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

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.