CHAFFEE COUNTY — According to a Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team report, the Decker Fire Operations Section Chief says things are now looking good. The fire is 30 percent contained after fire crews along with ground and aerial resources worked diligently Sunday and Monday to battle the blaze.
The Decker fire is now burning 2 miles south of Salida and so far, has scorched 8,118 acres of forestland. Part of the fire area is located in Saguache County. Total personnel engaged in bringing the blaze under control is at 720. The fire began Sept. 8 and is thought to have been caused by lightning.
On Monday the air was clear, allowing seven helicopters and one fixed wing air tanker to engage in fire suppression. Aircraft dropped 130,000 gallons of water on the fire and over 15 loads of fire retardant were applied. Fire vehicles and personnel are backhauling equipment and structure protection continues in many areas, so those living in the neighborhoods near fire are being asked to please drive carefully.
A total of 51 homes in the Bear Creek and Silver Heels areas in Chaffee County, also residences in Wellsville and Swissvale in Fremont County remain evacuated. Residents of Methodist Estates, Boot Hill and all of Howard remain under pre-evacuation status. Zones 1, 2 and 3 in Howard also are under pre-evacuation notice.
The report states that Monday “the fire was creeping slowly at times, fed by recently fallen aspen leaf litter. The slop-over from Sunday was worked by ground crews and hit with water and retardant to slow fire growth. Dozers completed fire lines around the slop over. The brown line on the south and west sides of the fire continues to hold. Firefighters will continue to monitor as they complete suppression repair work.
“Fire managers assessed the current fire edge and continued to build and secure a fire line on the east side of the fire. Eleven crews worked in Division T to build a direct line around the fire’s edge where it crossed CR 101. That section is lined, mopped up and plumbed. The finger of the fire along the Columbine Trail has also been lined.” On Tuesday, crews continued to construct fire line to keep the fire from impacting values at risk.
“In Division W, the control and contingency line between the Wilderness boundary and Howard will be improved over the next few days. This will include brushing and chipping.
“Division Y has been established on the far southeast side and will be monitoring the spot fire that is surrounded by rock on three sides. Dozers will build an indirect line using existing roads from Howard Creek Road south to the Hunts Lake Trailhead. Chippers will be utilized to disperse brush removed along the line.
“Structure protection will monitor structures in Bear Creek and continue structure assessment plans for the east side of Howard. Night shift continues to monitor the fire as they hold and secure the fire line.”
Roads are closed in Chaffee, Fremont and Saguache County. Fire management asks those traveling in the area to please respect these closures.