Above: Accumulated precipitation over the last seven days, June 12-18, 2018.
Moderating weather over the last seven days has helped firefighters make progress on some of the fires in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah. Today’s national Situation Report showed little or no increase in the size of wildfires in those four states. The 416 Fire in southwest Colorado and the Badger Creek Fire in southern Wyoming released a total of 345 personnel over the last 24 hours.
Todd Pechota’s Type 1 Incident Management Team is currently assigned to the 416 Fire, but Joe Reinarz’s NIMO team has been mobilized for the fire, which could be an indication that they expect it to be a long term incident. The west side of the fire has spread into steep, remote terrain above 8,000 feet as it grows closer to an 11,000 to 12,000-foot ridge five miles away. Much of the ridge is above the timber line and may eventually, with patience over time, serve as a barrier. Mr. Reinarz’s team team will transition on Friday.
Below, National Weather Service graphics show the observed precipitation and the departure from normal for the last 30 and 90 days.
Most of the spread of the 416 Fire north of Durango, Colorado Tuesday and Tuesday night was on the west side where it continues to grow onto the higher slopes in terrain that becomes increasingly difficult for ground-based firefighters. The fire ate up about 1,500 acres to bring the total to 25,900 acres.
It was announced Tuesday night that the evacuation order for residents in San Juan County will lift at 8 a.m. on June 13. Residents will need to present a Rapid Tag resident credentials to return. The residences in San Juan County will remain on pre-evacuation notice.
Resources on the 416 Fire include 9 Type 1 hand crews, 14 Type 2 hand crews, 55 engines, 3 dozers, and 4 water tenders for a total of 1,028 personnel. There are 203 personnel on the Burro Fire.
There was very little growth or activity on the Burro Fire Tuesday.
Fire management authorities are not releasing the cause of either fire.
A photo I took two days ago from the 416 Fire. If you look at the photo with the flames ripping the hillside, you can see the little white dots right in front of the fire. Those are the helmets of the the Hotshots, an elite team that battle high priority fires. #416Firepic.twitter.com/XWYxuluGzJ
(Originally published at 12:12 p.m. MDT June 12, 2018)
The wildfire with the odd name, “416”, continues to be very active especially on the west side. Over the past two days it has grown two miles closer to Durango, Colorado on the south side and is now seven miles from the north edge of the city, covering a total of 23,378 acres.
The west side of the 416 Fire has been the location of most of the activity recently where it has spread seven miles west of Highway 550 and to within six miles of another blaze, the 2,337-acre Burro Fire.
The west side of the 416 Fire is burning at over 8,000 feet in terrain that is difficult for ground resources. An 11,000 foot ridge separates the two fires and in normal times should serve as a barrier preventing them from merging, but the way wildfires have been behaving in recent years is anything but “normal”.
Todd Pechota’s Type 1 Incident Management Team is handling both fires.
The weather forecast for the fire area through Thursday calls for south and southwest winds of less than 10 mph, temperatures in the low 80’s, and 9 to 12 percent relative humidity. Beginning Thursday there is a chance of thunderstorms.
Friday afternoon a new fire broke out 22 miles northwest of Durango, and northwest of the 416 fire.
Above: An MD87 air tanker drops on the 416 Fire June 7, 2018. Photo by Dan Bender, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.
The 416 Fire that started June 1 just north of Hermosa, Colorado 10 miles north of Durango has been consistently active every day since then. So far firefighters have been able to keep it west of Highway 550, and until Friday it was east of Hermosa Creek. But at about 5:45 p.m. MDT Friday the San Juan National Forest reported the fire had crossed the creek just west of Lower Hermosa Campground.
A mandatory evacuation order was issued Friday for 304 residences on the east and west sides of U.S. Highway 550 from Electra Lake Drive to Hermosa Cliffs Road and the north end of Two Dogs Trail. More information about evacuations is available at the La Plata County Government Facebook page.
Officials closed U.S. Highway 550 Friday afternoon due to fire activity.
Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. a new fire broke out northwest of the 416 Fire near mile marker 34 on HWY 145 . It is named the Burro Mountain Fire and at 5:47 p.m. MDT smoke from the fire was visible on a satellite photo. At 7 p.m. the San Juan National Forest was in the process of issuing closure orders for this fire.
Todd Pechota’s Type 1 Incident Management Team will assume command of the 416 Fire at 6 a.m. Saturday.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean. Typos or errors, report them HERE.