Decker Fire Battles Winds

While the growth was minimal on the Decker Fire yesterday, September 25 significant smoke on both sides of the Sangre de Cristos Mountin Range has friends and neighbors talking about the situation.

Decker Fire activity on September 21. In the photo, the standing beetle-killed trees can be seen in the foreground. The mosaic of burned and unburned fuels can be seen along the ridge to the right of smoke plume. Photo: U.S. Forest Service-Rio Grande National Forest.

According to the fire’s new, incoming fire Incident Commander Justin Yankey, on the west side crews utilized Round Hill Trail and two-track roads to check the fire from advancing north. The active fire on Simmons Peak continued to slowly back down towards the Rainbow Trail into drainages, burning out interior pockets of dead and down timber. Crews are clearing the section of line near the intersection of the 101 road and the Rainbow Trail. These actions are to meet the incident’s objective of keeping the fire in the Wilderness.

Today the Teton Wildland Fire Module and Juniper Valley hand crew will prep indirect line moving northwest to keep fire off private and BLM on the west side. They will also scout for opportunities to use natural and existing control features. On the east side Alpine Hotshots will monitor fire spread towards the Rainbow Trail and implement firing operations if necessary. Pike Hotshots and Wind Cave Engine 629 will also scout options for direct line to tie fire into a southern wet drainage of Bear Creek.

The U.S. Forest Service estimates the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness has up to 80% tree mortality from beetle-kill and blowdown. The Decker Fire is removing high-risk fuels from the landscape, reducing future risk and restoring ecological balance to the forest.

The Decker Fire on September 25, 2019

Due to steep inaccessible terrain and heavy fuels we will continue to provide for our firefighter’s safety by engaging directly with the fire where the probability of success is high and firefighter exposure is minimized.

Mostly sunny skies, unseasonable warm temperatures and low relative humidity are expected today. Winds will be the main factor today with southwest winds increasing by mid-morning with gust up to 39 mph. There is a chance of isolated thunderstorms after 1:00 p.m. which could bring erratic and gusty outflow winds and lightning to the fire area.

The fire may be visible from both the US 50 and US 285 corridors. Motorists are asked to not stop in the roadway and be clear of the roadway before stopping to observe the fire. Please do not call 911 to report fire behavior on the Decker Fire or to request fire information. A fire information line is available for fire updates. Please call 911 for emergencies only.

Justin Yankey is the new Decker Fire Incident Commander

Weather & Fuel Conditions: Temperatures are expected to reach 70 degrees with humidity at 15-20 percent. Winds will be out of the southwest at 20-25 mph with gust up to 38 mph. Winds will shift west late afternoon and weaken slightly. Winds will remain elevated overnight. Dry weather with unseasonably warm temperatures are likely through to next week.

Evacuations and Closures: Portions of the 101 and 101A roads on National Forest system lands and the Rainbow Trail (1336 trail) south of 108 road to the Stout Lakes Trail (1403 trail) have been closed. A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued over the fire area to allow for aerial operations. Remember: if you fly, we can’t. There are no evacuations at this time. Smoke may settle into the US Highway 50 corridor in the late afternoons or evenings. Drivers are encouraged to reduce speed near the fire if smoke affects visibility.

Smoke: Real-time smoke information is available at Today’s smoke forecast for Salida and Arkansas River Valley is available at


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