Update: West Fork Complex fire hits 81,000 acres, still 0 percent contained
Update: The West Fork Complex fire, not far from Pagosa Springs, continues to be the most aggressive blaze currently burning in the scorched State of Colorado.
Big photos, videos below.
And it's proven stubbornly resistant to the best efforts of firefighters to bring it under control.
The latest: The size of the fire is now estimated at approximately 81,000 acres.
The estimated percentage of containment? Zero.
At this writing, the most up-to-date information on the West Fork Complex fire can be found at the Archuleta County Emergency Information website.
Here are details about each of the main blazes that make up the overall conflagration: the Papoose fire, the Windy Pass fire, and the West Fork fire, which is divided into zones for the purposes of description:
National Forest Service
Papoose Fire: Fire activity increased on the northwest flank of the fire last night about shift change. The fire has burned down into Crooked Creek, and firefighters from both shifts worked diligently to protect structures as the fire pushed into the area. The night shift resources continued to work in this area through the night and as of this morning there is no known structure loss. Today firefighters will continue to provide structure protection in the Crooked Creek area and will mop up along Highway 149.
Eastern Part of West Fork Fire: On the southeast flank, along Highway 160, aerial resources will continue to keep the fire north of the highway. On the northeast side, near Sentinel Peak, firefighters will continue to improve the dozer line that is in place to minimize the chances of the fire reaching South Fork. Near Lake Humphreys and Metroz Lake, crews will continue to provide structure protection. Along Highway 149, structure protection continues on both sides of the highway.
West Zone of West Fork Complex (Includes Western Part of West Fork and Windy Pass Fires): There was minimal fire growth in the West Zone yesterday. There were some flare-ups in pockets of unburned bug-killed spruce and continued smoldering ground fires in the heavy dead fuels. Most of this activity was interior to the existing fire perimeter. With the high pressure moving in expect smoke to linger in the valleys longer during the morning.
Western Part of West Fork Fire: The West Zone of the West Fork fire is the portion of the fire burning south of the continental divide. Yesterday there was spotty fire activity on the south flank of the fire above Borns Lake and the fire made a short run burning in bug-killed spruce up a drainage interior to the fire perimeter. Structure protection sprinklers are installed at Bruce Spruce Resort and fire fighters will be evaluating and implementing structure protection needs for additional structures on West Fork Road today. Portions of the sprinkler system at Borns Lake were run yesterday to increase humidity and fuel moisture around the Borns lake structures.
Windy Pass Fire: Activity on the Windy Pass Fire yesterday was minimal. Windy Pass fire only grew by 26 acres, going from 1,355 acres to 1,381. With the decrease in wind intensity the immediate threat to Wolf Pass Ski Area has diminished. Fire managers are looking at possibly putting in a line with retardant to check the fire spread to the east today or tomorrow.
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Windy Pass: 1,381 acresRemarkably, there continue to be no reports of structures damages or injuries sustained -- very good news. Meanwhile, the number of firefighters assigned to the fire keeps increasing, with the latest total at 1,187. One reason they've had such difficulty is the tricky terrain on which the flames have gained a foothold. Another is the weather, although today is being more cooperative than usual. The winds are expected to be in the five-to-fifteen mile-per-hour range, with gusts to twenty -- far more modest than in some recent days.
Papoose: 25,236 acres
West Fork: 54,714 acres
The chance of thunderstorms is expected to grow over the next few days. That could be a blessing if they bring rain, or a curse if they mainly generate lightning of the sort that's thought to have started the fire in the first place.
No new closures or evacuations have been issued, but Highway 160 from the chain-up area to South Fork -- the community that's most at risk of destruction -- is still closed.
Look below to see an eye-catching U.S. military video showing aerial efforts to bring the West Fork Complex fire under control. That's followed by our previous coverage.
Continue for our previous coverage of the West Fork Complex fire, including photos and videos.