With dry conditions increasing, BLM Front Range Fire and Aviation Management Unit Incident Commander John Markalunas says the public should expect increased fire behavior during the day on Wednesday, due to decreased cloud cover and warm and drier conditions. Residence can anticipate seeing more smoke in the air.
Fire officials have scheduled a public meeting for 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 at the Poncha Springs Town Hall to provide a fire update. The fire started from a lightning strike Sept. 9 and is burning approximately nine miles south of Salida. There are currently 72 firefighters on the fire lines.
On Tuesday, a multi-mission aircraft (MMA) flew the fire and mapped it at 846 acres. Tuesday marked the second consecutive day of no new growth. Crews took advantage of the fire behavior to scout the fire to look for possible locations to construct contingency lines in anticipation of the change in weather expected later on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday morning, crews continued to work the western side of the fire along the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) boundary. Crews began building a contingency line along the Rainbow Trail on the eastern side of the fire. The section of trail for the Banana Belt Race, scheduled for Saturday, will not be affected.
Regarding fuel loads, the U.S. Forest Service estimates that areas within the wilderness have up to 80 percent tree mortality from beetle-kill and blowdown events. It confirms that the Decker Fire is being managed to remove these high-risk fuels from the landscape for the ecological benefit and to reduce the risk for catastrophic wildfire in the future.
The fire may be visible from both the U.S. 50 and U.S. 285 corridors. Motorists are asked to not stop in the roadway and not call 911 to report fire behavior.
The Decker Fire is divided into two Branches:
Branch I (on the northeast side by Salida) and Branch II (on the southwest side the San Luis Valley). Then subdivided into five divisions.Branch I - Salida
• Division T (northeast side by Wellsville)
• Division R (north side by Salida)
• Division W (southeast side by Howard)
• Division A (west side by Poncha Pass)
• Division X (south side by Alder)