SAGUACHE COUNTY — According to a press release from the US Forest Service, additional resources arrived Monday to help fight the Decker Fire, which has grown to 1,195 acres and continues to burn in the Rio Grande National Forest nine miles south of Salida.
A total of 94 personnel are now engaged in battling the wilderness fire. The fire was sparked by a lightning strike on Sept. 8.
The Pike and Alpine hotshot crews and a K-MAX helicopter joined the operation Tuesday. On the west side of the fire, crews completed construction of a contingency line between Saw Mill Gulch over to Round Hill Trail. The new Incident Commander, Justin Yankey, arrived and began briefing with the current team. Transfer of command occurred Tuesday night.
As the active part of the fire continues to back down Simmons Peak, crews will look for opportunities to employ direct tactics. Firing operations with aerial bucket support may be used to bring the fire down to the Rainbow Trail control feature near Bear Creek. A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the air space above the fire.
Alpine Hotshots and the Juniper Valley hand crew will continue removing fuels along the Rainbow Trail between Bear Creek and Columbine. Pike Hotshots and Wind Cave Engine 629 will scout options for direct line to tie fire into natural control features including the wet drainage south of Bear Creek near county road 101. On the west side of the fire, crews will look for opportunities to secure the edge between Saw Mill Gulch over to Round Hill Trail.
The dead and down fuel component is the main driver for fire activity. Fire behavior is mostly creeping, smoldering with some isolated torching and short runs. Dry weather with unseasonably warm temperatures are likely later this week.
The U.S. Forest Service estimates that areas within the Wilderness have up to 80 percent tree mortality from beetle-kill and blowdown. The Decker Fire is being managed to remove these high-risk fuels from the landscape for ecological benefit and to reduce the risk for catastrophic wildfire in the future.
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.
Evacuations and Closures
The Pike & San Isabel National Forest Supervisor issued a closure order for the Rainbow Trail Decker Fire area that includes portions of the 101 and 101A roads on National Forest lands and south of 108. The purpose of this closure is to protect natural resources and public safety due to the continuing activity on the Decker Fire. A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the airspace over the fire. Hobby drones are prohibited. Whenever drones fly, aircraft fighting the fire cannot fly. For more information: Fire Info Line: (719) 626-1095
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.
Real-time smoke information is available at bit.ly/DeckerFireSmokeInfo.