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Decker Fire

Unit Information

Rio Grande National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
1803 W. Highway 160
Monte Vista, CO 81144

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Decker Fire Update (10/5/19)

Decker Fire Wildfire
News – 10/5/2019

October 5, 2019 (10 a.m.)

Special notes: There is a PUBLIC MEETING about the Decker Fire TODAY at 10am: Salida SteamPlant, 220 W. Sackett Ave.

HUNTERS are advised to carefully check Forest and BLM closures before scouting or hunting; some units are in or near the fire.

Weather: There is a RED FLAG WARNING in effect from 11am to 8pm. Predicted conditions will be dry with strong winds throughout the day and humidities dipping into the low teens. Temps 45-55F. Winds from the W/NW, 25-35 mph, gusts 40-45. In the afternoon, winds will shift and come from due west. Gusts of 50-55 mph are possible across the fire area between 3pm and 6pm. Gusts of 30-40 mph will persist through the night. Fuels are dry and receptive to embers. The combination of dry fuels, low humidities, and high winds creates significant potential for spotting. Once established, wind-driven spot fires could spread quickly. The potential for winds to carry fire eastward today prompted a PRE-EVACUATION notice for the communities of Howard, Pine Ridge, Wellsville, and Swissvale yesterday afternoon.

Current Situation: Fire was less active yesterday (Oct 4) than previous days. Helicopters were able to fly and do bucket work (drop water over the fire) for most of the day. Crews in Divisions A and R made significant progress on a dozer line along a ridge west of the fire. There is now dozer line connecting Divisions A and R, proceeding northwards, and tying into CR 128. Saw teams and dozers in Division R worked on clearing the road leading up Methodist to the repeater; many burned trees and powerlines are strewn across it. In Division T on the northeast, crews successfully constructed direct handline and some dozer line around most of the “arm” reaching toward Bear Creek. Firefighters in Division X worked to improve existing road systems, and structure protection crews assessed homes in the community of Howard. More resources arrived on the fire yesterday; there are now 730 people working on the Decker Fire. More crews and engines are on the way.

Fire managers have restructured the divisions on the fire. There is no longer a Division S, and a Division W has been established on the east to focus on areas between the fire and Howard.

Today, firefighters in Division R will improve dozer line and work to tie it into the powerline road. Crews in Division T will improve the direct handline around the “arm,” wrapping around to the Columbine Trail. The new Division W is treacherous wilderness terrain, and there are no options close to the fire that offer a high probability of success. Thus, crews in Division W will be scouting for fireline options closer to the edge of the wilderness and towards the community of Howard. There will be a strong presence of structure protection crews performing assessments and structure prep work in Howard and surrounding communities today. In Division X, crews will scout for additional fireline options further south of the fire and keep improving existing roads in this area. Firefighters in Division A are improving fireline and monitoring for changes in fire behavior.

Aircraft will be utilized today as much as possible, although wind speeds could ground them throughout the day.

A Rapid Extraction Module (REM) has been assigned to the Decker Fire. This is a group of highly trained firefighter-paramedics proficient in high and low angle rope rescue; if a firefighter is injured or incapacitated in difficult-to-access terrain (which is prevalent on the Decker Fire), these rescuers create rope and pully systems to extract the injured firefighter and get them to a location where a helicopter can land or an ambulance can access them. The firefighter would then be transported to a hospital.

Closures 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, please go to: https://tinyurl.com/SanIsabelClosures. For Rio Grande Forest closures, please go to: https://tinyurl.com/RioGrandeClosures.For evacuation information, please contact the Chaffee County Sherriff’s Office at 719-539-2596 or go to the Chaffee County Sheriff or Fremont County Sheriff Facebook pages and websites.

Fire Statistics:

Location: Fire started 9 miles south of, and is now burning 2 miles south of Salida, CO Start Date: September 8, 2019

Size: 5,921 acres Percent Contained: 5

Total Personnel: 730 Cause: Lightning

Resources Include: 8 Type-1 hand crews, 12 Type-2 hand crews, 24 engines, 3 dozers, 8 water tenders

Air Resources: 3 Type-1 (K-MAX, Blackhawk, Chinook), 1 Type-2, and 2 Type 3, and 3 fixed-wing aircraft