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As the fight against the Decker Fire continues, for the first time, there was no increase in total acres, which stand at 8,723. Incident command has announced that the fire is now 35 percent contained.

A Burned Area Emergency Response Team, known as BAER, began Monday to assess the fire area. Their purpose is to address post-wildfire issues, including suppression activity damage repair, burn area rehabilitation and long-term restoration.

Structure Protection Strategies are critical in what is called the Wildland/Urban Interface. )Photo courtesy National Fire Protection Association)

Hotshot crews on the northeast side of the fire (the Bear Creek, Wellsville and Swissvale area) have completed containment in the Columbine Gulch “thumb” area and are working on getting Bear Valley residents back into their homes. On the north-northeast side of the fire (Pinyon Ridge Ranch, Boot Hill and Methodist Estates), crews continue to stage structure protection equipment in the areas where residents have been allowed to return to their homes after evacuation.

On the east-southeast side of the fire, along U.S. 50 toward Howard, crews are continuing fire suppression area rehabilitation and repair. Chipping operations are ongoing. On the west-southwest side, the active fire area near Simmons Peak has barely moved, in part because of higher humidity and cooler temperatures over the past day or two.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Chaffee County has moved to extreme fire danger levels for the first time this year. It is under fire restrictions as are Lake, Park, Fremont, Saguache, Custer and Alamosa counties. That reality remains a critical factor in fire behavior. While Monday saw a wintery-looking front hover over the Sawatch Range, little of it reached the Sangre de Cristo and high winds prevented aerial operations.

Resources devoted to the Decker fire now include 628 personnel from 19 crews and base incident command, 30 engines, eight water tenders, two bulldozers and five helicopters of various types,