SALIDA, Colo. — The Decker Fire has gained some containment on the north side; it is now 14% contained, as of Tuesday morning.
Residents and anyone driving on roads north of the fire are asked to please remain extra aware, extra cautious, and drive slowly to help keep our firefighters safe.
There is still a lot of fire traffic, fire equipment, and personnel in this area, and work is still taking place.
WEATHER: Wind gusts were stronger than predicted Monday and should return Tuesday, with gusts up to 40 mph on the ridges. Winds should be from the S/SW, changing to the W/NW around 4 p.m.
Strong winds, an unstable atmospheric environment, and dry conditions once again combine to create a Red Flag Warning.
Under these conditions, the potential for active fire behavior remains.
Tuesday was mostly sunny with a few clouds, RHs of 14-21%, temperatures 57-64 degrees.
Similar conditions are expected to return Wednesday, and another Red Flag Warning will be in place. On Thursday, a cold front is expected to move into the area, possibly bringing rain, snow, and a hard freeze.
CURRENT SITUATION: Monday in Division R, two fire crews made considerable progress on improving the dozer line leading from the ridgeline at the Division R/A break north to the Rainbow Trial.
They also completed improvements on the Rainbow Trail, running from the dozer line east to the fire’s edge. In both divisions R and T, firefighters made substantial progress on the direct handline that wraps around the top and “arm” of the fire.
A large section of this is now considered contained and will show as black line on the map. Crews in Division T also worked on the handline that starts at the tip of the “arm” and moves south along CR 101/49. Work along this road is nearly complete.
Dozers in Division T kept building the dozer line running from the end of CR 101/49, southeast toward the Rainbow Trail.
Handcrews worked on this fireline from the opposite direction, coming from the Howard area and working west.
In Division X, crews kept working on indirect line utilizing existing trails and roads. Dozers in Division A built fireline along a ridgeline toward the repeater on Methodist Mountain.
Tuesday, firefighters in Division R were expected to work to secure the remaining direct line on the north side (the part that is still red on maps).
Crews in Division T will do the same on the bottom of the “arm,” and will continue to “mop-up” along the already contained areas.
Mopping-up is when crews work along existing fireline, conducting tasks such as extinguishing smoldering material along the fire’s edge, ensuring logs/debris cannot roll across the fire line, clearing both sides of the fire line of snags, rotten logs, stumps, singed brush and low hanging limbs of trees, and searching for underground burning roots near the line.
Chipping operations were expected to begin Tuesday along CR 101/49, and continue in the coming days.
In Division W, crews will improve both hand and dozer line that runs between Howard and the fire.
Dozers will work in Division X to continue improving BLM roads, and crews will improve handline that has been constructed closer to the fire’s edge. I
In Division A on the west, crews will keep building dozer line along the ridge leading to the repeater on Methodist.
Structure protection crews remain present in the communities near Howard; pre-evacuations were lifted yesterday for some areas, and officials are assessing timing for others.
Firing operations (aerial, hand, or both) may take place today or in the coming days.
These operations are very condition-dependent; fire managers must constantly and carefully evaluate many factors to decide whether these operations are likely to present a high probability of success. Residents may see increased smoke if these operations occur.
CLOSERS AND PUBLIC SAFETY: There are multiple road closures around the Decker Fire area in Chaffee, Fremont and Saguache County.
For your safety and firefighter safety, please respect posted closures.
For San Isabel Forest closures: https://tinyurl.com/SanIsabelClosures. For Rio Grande Forest closures: https://tinyurl.com/RioGrandeClosures. For BLM closures: Facebook @BLMColoradFire and https://tinyurl.com/BLMCLosure.
For evacuation information, please contact the Chaffee County Sherriff’s Office: 719-539-2596, or Fremont County Emergency Management: 719-276-7416, 719-276-7418 or go to the Chaffee County Sheriff or Fremont County Sheriff Facebook pages and websites.