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Weather limits fire on West Fork Complex

By Dale Rodebaugh Herald staff writer

The area burned by the three fires northeast of Pagosa Springs known as the West Fork Complex stood at 110,000 acres Friday, with 20 percent containment reported.

“There was not much fire activity,” said Mark De Gregorio with the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team. “The weather has been cloudy, and we had some scattered showers on the Papoose Fire and one-tenth to four-tenths of an inch on parts of the West Fork Fire.”

The Windy Pass Fire is the third of the West Fork Complex. All three fires were sparked by lightning.

Temperatures were in the upper 70s and low 80s below 9,000 feet on Friday, De Gregorio said.

The fires are burning in steep terrain with heavy loads of dead and downed spruce and fir, victims of bark beetles.

In the east zone of the West Fork Complex (Papoose and eastern part of the West Fork Fire), attention focused on structure protection and containing the fire to areas where it is no threat to communities.

Vegetation continues to dry in the Papoose area with single trees and forest floor litter burning. Without precipitation, increased afternoon winds pose a potential threat.

In the Windy Pass and western part of the West Fork Complex, the fire increased minimally. The fires will continue to be monitored by air and on the ground.

More rain and thunderstorms are forecast this weekend.

U.S. Highway 160 and Colorado Highway 149 are open, but traffic may be heavy at times because of holiday travel.

Fire acreages are estimated at 1,417 for Windy Pass, 48,652 for Papoose and 59,959 for West Fork. About 1,200 firefighters are on the three fires.

Information about the fires is available at http://westforkfirecomplex.blogspot.com.


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