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Black Forest Containment Rises As New Colorado Wildfires Ignite [Updated]


Six wildfires are now burning in Colorado.

Update 6:18 a.m. 6/17/2013: Via Morning Edition's Erin O'Toole:

As of Monday, the Black Forest Fire is 65 percent contained, but firefighters are still struggling against hot spots and flare-ups that could threaten homes that have so far been spared. Crews got a better handle on the fire Sunday, helped by steady rain that moved over the densely wooded Black Forest. Fire officials are hoping to have the blaze fully contained by Thursday.

Black Forest Totals:

  • Size: 15,500 acres
  • 483 homes lost, 17 damaged [latest assessment .pdf]
  • Containment: 65%
  • Personnel: 1,175

Royal Gorge Fire: The Royal Gorge Fire is now fully contained, the Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team B tweeted Sunday night.

The Royal Gorge Fire consumed 3,218 acres, the Cañon City Daily Record reports that 48 commercial structures at Royal Gorge Park were lost. No homes were lost to the fire.

Big Meadows Fire: The Big Meadows Fire burning to the west side of Rocky Mountain National park is now 75 percent contained and has blackened 604 acres.

Our original post continues...


Black Forest Fire: As of Saturday, the fire is at 55 percent containment with some residents being allowed back in to some evacuated areas. During a press conference Saturday officials were cautiously optimistic that the fire could be fully contained by midweek.

Black Forest Totals:

Credit El Paso County
Map of the Black Forest Fire evacuation areas as of June 16, 2013.

Evacuation orders were lifted in the following areas:

  • East of Meridian from Count Line Road to Burgess
  • Highway 83 West to Sun Hills and Baptist Road
  • Walker road North to County Line Road
  • Black Forest East to Highway 83
  • Highway 83 has been reopened

For specific information pertaining to evacuations and area closures go to rsg.epcsheriff.com or contact the Joint Information Center at 719-444-8300.

West Fork Fire: The fire made a significant push northward in the Weminuche Wilderness Saturday and is burning at the junction of West Fork Trail and Beaver Creek; the fire has spotted to the east side of the West Fork Trail near Beaver Creek. Firefighters were able to make good progress with their structure protection efforts near Borns Lake. The Type 1 helicopter continued with water drops along the southern flank.

The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center reported the fire at 510 acres and 0 percent contained.

Windy Pass Fire: The fire made several runs early Saturday as it reached pockets of dead and down fuel. A Type 2 helicopter made water drops today to help control the spread of the fire. A Type 3 Incident Commander has been brought in to manage the fire and will be supported by overhead on the Type 3 Team managing the West Fork Fire. The fire was estimated at 40 acres around 11 a.m. Saturday.

Archuleta County Emergency Information says both the West Fork and Windy Pass Fires saw significant growth Saturday afternoon as Red Flag conditions and thunder cells moved over the area. An infrared flight last is expected to confirm the perimeter and size of the fires, but the information has not yet been released.

There are approximately 65 people working each fire.

Big Meadows Fire: Officials reported the Big Meadows Fire was at 60 percent contained as of Sunday. The fire, burning on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park since June 10 the fire perimeter is now estimated to encompass 604 acres.The fire was ignited by a lightning strike.

Royal Gorge Fire: The fire is 85 percent contained as of Saturday night and has destroyed 48 commercial structures. All of the structures were owned by the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. No residential structures were lost. According to Inciweb, there was no growth on the Royal Gorge Fire Saturday. Fire crews were able to complete line construction on the south and west portions of the fire.

Sunday, fire crews will continue with mop-up as needed in order to contain the fire to current control lines. Resources will continue to demobilize from this incident tomorrow, and become available to assist other areas impacted by wildfires in Colorado and around the nation.

Ward Gulch Fire: The 682 acre fire is burning three miles north of Rifle Gap Reservoir. It was reported at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The fire has not grown significantly since Friday. No structures are immediately threatened at this time.

According to Inciweb, officials feel significant progress has been made in the last 24 hours. Firefighters will continue a direct attack today with helicopters and hand crews. They will focus on strengthening the fireline on the west flank, and completing fireline on the east flank, where the fire is closest to Hwy 325, the fish hatchery, and residences.

Structure protection and protecting the watershed for the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery are also priorities.

Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle Mountain Park, and the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery are closed. Rifle Gap State Park is open, but closed to boating due to the helicopter activity.

Colorado Highway 325 is closed north of the intersection with Grass Valley Road. Residents along the road closure have been evacuated.

Follow the Ward Creek fire on Twitter @ucrfirecenter. The Colorado River Fire Rescue Regional Fire Authority is providing Facebook updates. www.facebook.com/coloradoriverfirerescue.

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