Decker Fire Active With Strong Winds

While San Luis Valley residents awoke to a welcome dense fog, bringing some much-needed moisture into the area, crews continue to battle recent high winds associated with the Decker Fire. Residents are reminded of tonight’s Public Meeting, October 1 at 6:30 p.m. at The Scout Hut, 210 E. Sackett Ave., Salida, CO 81201. For those unable to attend, the Decker Fire Facebook Page has been great about video updates.

The Decker Wildfire encountered fierce winds on September 30 as crews fight to contain the blaze which began September 21.
The Decker Wildfire encountered fierce winds on September 30 as crews fight to contain the blaze which began September 21. Photo: USFS

As of Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 11:30 a.m. here’s the word from the official incident commander.

Current Situation: High winds contributed to increased activity on the Decker Fire yesterday. Heavy smoke developed over the fire and could be seen for many miles. In Division S on the northeast, the fire remained calm. Morning bucket work by helicopters helped to slow the spread to the northeast. In Division A on the west, around 3pm, fire activity increased significantly in a previously inactive area. Driven by strong winds from the south, the fire burned northward from the Green Rocks area toward Simmons Peak. This area had dense sections of unburnt fuel, and flame lengths were 80 to 100 feet high at times. A large smoke column developed over the fire, and the fire grew approximately 600 acres. The smoke column appeared so large and dense due to the heavy concentration of dead and down fuel that has built up in the forest over the years. Some “spot fires” were detected in Division R on the San Isabel side near the upper Rock and Bear Creek drainages. The majority of growth was on the western side of the fire within the wilderness boundary. A night shift was established on the fire last night; two engines and a Task Force Leader monitored behavior overnight and will continue to do so as long as they are needed.

Today, October 1 is another Red Flag Warning day, with low humidity (11-16%) and gusty winds. Fire growth is probable today, with movement likely toward the north. Heavy smoke and plumes are possible. Helicopters will fly this morning to cool spots from yesterday’s growth. Multiple lookouts will be posted to observe for any developments. Crews and dozers on the north will scout for additional opportunities for fireline outside of the wilderness. Structure protection crews will be present in Silver Heels and Bear Creek. As the fire reaches wilderness boundary and safer terrain, firefighters have a much stronger probability of success and can engage in more aggressive suppression efforts. Fire managers have ordered additional resources for this purpose.

A dense, moist fog greeted San Luis Valley residents on the first day of October.

The majority of the fire is burning in inaccessible wilderness full of dead and down fuel where it is unsafe for firefighters to go, and where helicopter water drops can only slow and cool the fire. Portions of the wilderness may burn until fuels have been consumed or after a season-ending event such as significant and sustained snowfall. Limiting spread onto private and BLM land and ensuring firefighter and public safety remain top priorities.

Weather & Fuel Conditions: Relative humidity recovery was poor last night, and today should be another sunny, dry day with humidities from 11-16%. Temperatures 53-62F. Winds from the SW/S, 15 to 35, with gusts as high as 55. Winds from the SW may align with drainages between 12pm and 3pm and will then shift to come from the south around 3pm. Smoke plumes are most likely between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Critical fire weather and high winds are expected to persist through the week.

Smoke: Significant smoke may remain in areas surrounding the fire. Some individuals may be more sensitive than others. You should take actions to protect yourself if you are having symptoms. Further suggestions can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ReduceYourSmokeExposure. Real-time smoke information is available at https://tinyurl.com/DeckerFireSmoke. Today’s smoke forecast for Salida and Arkansas River Valley is available at https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/CentralColorado.

Closures: Portions of the 101 and 101A roads on National Forest lands and the Rainbow Trail (1336 tail) south of 108 road to the Stout Lakes Trail (1403 trail) have been closed. Chaffee County Road 101/CR 49 (Bear Creek Road) in Fremont County is closed (open to local traffic only). 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. 

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.

Decker Fire Statistics:
Size: 2207 acres, with 5% containment
Total Personnel:  220
Cause:  Lightning
Start Date: September 8, 2019
Location:  9 miles south of Salida, CO

Decker Fire Information Office

Fire Info Line:  (719) 626-1095

InciWeb:  https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6592/

Facebook:  facebook.com/DeckerFire2019

Twitter:  #DeckerFire2019

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