Weber Fire Showed Little Growth on Wednesday
by Watch Staff
Jun 28, 2012 | 3347 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Lightning Sparks Fire Near Durango

MANCOS, Colo. – Firefighters continue to make progress on containing the Weber Fire near Mancos. More mop-up has been completed along burned areas on the fire perimeter, bringing the containment up to 35 percent. 

The acreage has been revised to 9,279 acres due to more accurate mapping. There was minimal fire growth on Wednesday.

With the cooler, more humid weather the last two days, firefighters have been able to work on more of the indirect containment lines. These lines are forming a “box” for the expected growth of the fire. As the fire spreads down the steep, rugged slopes and firefighters burn out the fuels on the edges of the fire, the chance of the fire spreading beyond this box is greatly decreased.

One tool being used to help create containment lines is a masticator or hydro axe. This is a rubber tired machine that operates much like a big lawnmower, which grinds up vegetation, making it less likely to burn.  It is being used to cut a swath through twenty-foot tall dense vegetation west of East Canyon, creating a fuel break. Firefighters can burn out safely from this line to clean up fuels and keep the fire from spreading further down the slope.

Thursday’s forecast is calling for a shift toward warmer, drier weather with a chance of dry lightning in the afternoon. The extended forecast is for a warming and drying trend through the weekend.

The evacuation order has been lifted for homes on the east side of County Road 41, north of the County Road G junction, affecting about 30 residences. The mandatory evacuation order remains in effect for residences south of County Road G, south of Highway 160 north of the fire, and on the east side of the fire, including the Elk Spring Ranch and Elk Stream Subdivisions.

Highway 160 and Mesa Verde National Park are open. County Road 41 is open south to County Road G. The portion of County Road 41 south of County Road G is still closed.

The next community meeting is scheduled on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Mancos High School Performing Arts Auditorium. 

The Weber Fire remains under investigation by the Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement Officers and a special investigation team. An earlier announcement indicated the fire was human caused, but it is still under investigation and no official report has been released.

“When the investigation is complete an official announcement will be made by the Bureau of Land Management,” said Connie Clementson, BLM Tres Rios field manager. “We ask that our communities have patience as we complete our investigation.”

Lightner Fire – Pre-Evacuations Notices Issued

DURANGO At approximately 12:45 p.m., on Wednesday, June 27, a fire was reported up Lightner Creek, located approximately 3.5 miles west of Durango.  The smoke from the fire is very visible from Durango.  The fire is burning on private land & Perins Peak State Wildlife Area. The fire started 1.5 miles off County Road 208 from where it junctions with CR 207.  It has been confirmed that it started by lightning.  Structure protection staging is being done by Ft. Lewis Mesa Fire Department, Durango Fire and Rescue Authority and Upper Pine Fire Protection District.  The San Juan National Forest Type III team is in charge.

On Thursday, fire officials said a light wetting rain and higher humidity helped firefighters with containment efforts on the Lightner Fire on Wednesday evening. The fire is now estimated at 80 acres and 40 contained. The fire line is holding well on the south and west sides (which are the largest threats to private residences). 

Full containment is estimated to be completed by 8 p.m. Friday.

County Road 207 and 208 are closed to all incoming traffic at this time.  Pre-evacuation notices were sent out to 60 residents north of County Road 207 and County Road 208 junction and those County Roads have been closed to non-residents.  La Plata County Sheriff’s Office has gone door-to-door to inform residents of possible evacuation. 

An information line has been set up for the public at (970) 385-8700.

There are currently 50 fire personnel, 2 engines, 2 water tenders, one heavy helicopter and one air attack plane on scene. One, possible two, additional 20-person crews will support the firefighting efforts this afternoon.

The pre-evacuation notice for residents north and west of the junction of County Roads 207 and 208 will remain in effect until 8 p.m. Thursday evening.

A Red Flag Warning is in effect from 11 .m. until midnight on Thursday. Lightning strikes often smolder for several days and then flare up with warm temperatures and/or high winds. If you spot smoke and believe it is on private land call 911. If the smoke is on public lands call Durango Interagency Dispatch at 970/385-1324.

The Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch Center reports that, in the 24 hour-period between Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening this week, area firefighting agencies have responded to 23 confirmed wildfires started by lightning strikes. During that time period, the center reported its Automated Lightning Detection System registered more than 4,000 lightning strikes.

Health Recommendations for Wildfire Smoke

Smoke from wildfires can cause problems for those with respiratory and cardiac disease as well as the very young and elderly. Smoke from forest and grass fires contains particles that can irritate eyes, throat and lungs.  These can be bothersome to many people, but especially so to those with compromised lungs.

Smoke can worsen symptoms for those children and adults who have pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Typical symptoms may include:

Difficulty breathing normally

Cough with or without mucus

Chest discomfort

Wheezing and shortness of breath

Particulate-laden smoke can also worsen cardiac disease. Inhaled particles trigger the release of chemical messengers into the blood that may increase the risk of blood clots, angina episodes, heart attacks and strokes. People with chronic cardiac conditions are more susceptible to chest pain, heart attacks, cardiac arrhythmias, acute congestive heart failure or stroke.

If wildfire smoke is triggering mild symptoms, National Jewish Health doctors recommend:

Taking your medications as prescribed.

Using your rescue inhaler if your doctor has recommended one.

Staying indoors as much as possible.

Limiting exercise outdoors.

Considering leaving the area if smoke is making you sick, until the air is clear again.

Consulting your physician if respiratory or chest symptoms become severe.

National Jewish Health is in the process of updating these recommendations to include additional information regarding heat/ozone and the potential for long-term effects.

People who are feeling symptoms they think might be caused by the smoke, can call the LungLine at 800-222-LUNG, to talk to registered nurses staffing those phones. The service is free.

Information about this and other fires can be found at www.inciweb.org. Follow us on Twitter @weberfireinfo.

Weber Fire Continues to Burn Actively

– As of Monday morning, the Weber Fire near Mancos, Colo. has grown to an estimated 8,300 acres in size with no containment.

According to the San Juan District of the Bureau of Land Management, there are now 164 fire fighters working to contain the wildfire. 

San Juan District of the Bureau of Land Management has brought in Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C with Joe Lowe as the incident commander. This Type II team assumed command of the Weber Fire as of 6 p.m. Sunday, June 24. 

Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office issued a mandatory evacuation for the County Road J49 and Highway 160 area on Sunday at about 6 p.m.  Evacuation advisories have been issued for County Road 41 south and east of Mancos, the Elk Springs Ranch and Elk Stream subdivisions, and other residences south of Highway 160, east of Co. Rd. 41.

Residents are strongly encouraged to leave for their own safety as well as the safety of firefighters. Road closures have been put in effect to keep the area clear for incoming firefighting resources within the fire perimeter.

The following road closures are in effect:

·         County Road G at County Road 41

·         County Road J at County Road 41

·         County Road 46 at Highway 160

Fire officials said on Monday the Weber Fire is expected to continue actively burning. Residential areas and three communications sites continue to be threatened. Although the Red Flag Warning for high fire danger has been lifted, weather conditions continue to be favorable for very active fire behavior, with southwest winds forecasted. The fire will also be burning residual pockets of fuel within the fire perimeter.

With multiple large fires burning in the western United States, fire resources continue to be in short supply. Additional firefighters are on order and will be arriving, some from other regions of the country. Airplanes and helicopters are being shared with other fires, too. Helicopters are dropping water and single engine air tankers (SEATs) will apply retardant to protect structures and other resources, and to check the fire spread.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Published June 23 at 9:23 a.m.

Weber Fire Threatens Mancos Subdivisions

 As of 12:30 Saturday, the Montezuma County sheriff has ordered mandatory evacuations south of Hwy 160 on County Rd. 42.5 east to the county line and east on County Rd. H.  Areas north of Hwy. 160 have been advised to be prepared for an evauation order.  

The Weber fire began on Friday at about 4:25 about three miles south of Mancos and had grown to an estimated 2500 acres by 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Fire managers predicted a day of "very active fire behavior" on Saturday.

Fire conditions remain dangerous at least through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, with a possibility of dry thunderstorms Sunday afternoon and evening.

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