Here is the latest news about the 416 Fire:
6:10 p.m.Fire activity and firefighting operations on the 416 Fire has prompted a pre-evacuation notice for 163 homes and two businesses along the west side of County Road 203 from Trimble Lane south to its intersection with U.S. Highway 550.
Additionally, 44 residences from the 1000 block of County Road 204 at Sailing Hawks, northwest to the Colorado Trail access are under pre-evacuation notice.
A CodeRED notification was sent to residents and businesses in the pre-evacuation area and law enforcement began sharing the information door-to-door beginning at 6 p.m.
3:40 p.m.Todd Pechota, incident commander on the 416 Fire, said some firefighters have been on scene since Day 1, and they are about to “time out,” meaning they have reached their 14 days of work before they are given time off. As they leave, more crews will be called in to replace them.
“I expect over the next eight days we will continue to grow; probably not at the same rate that we have over the last three or four days, but we will order what we need to meet our objectives,” he said Wednesday during a news conference.
Containment remains at 15 percent, most of which is along the U.S. Highway 550 corridor. On some days, the fire grows faster than containment lines, Pechota said.
Weather is expected to be unfavorable over the next couple of days, he said, but it will be hot and dry.
But according to the National Weather Service, Southwest Colorado could get some moisture this weekend because of Hurricane Bud.
It may look monsoon-like, but this weekend's push of moisture is not the start of the monsoon season. Instead, it is a temporary pattern shift as subtropical moisture and remnants of now Hurricane Bud will be pulled into the region. #cowx #utwx pic.twitter.com/DNNVREMxX3— NWS Grand Junction (@NWSGJT) June 13, 2018
“Folks on the ground have not caught a break since the day this fire started,” he said. “They’ve faced really tough and challenging conditions, and they know they’ve got probably another 48 hours of really, really tough work ahead of them. And then there is a glimmer of hope on the weekend, but I’ll believe when I see it.”
Pechota said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
3:15 p.m.La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith said authorities will allow residents to return home as it becomes safe to do so. But he said it’s a constantly changing landscape based on fire conditions.
He doesn’t want people to be out of their homes any longer than they need to be.
Smith said auditories are also looking at the possibility of reopening U.S. Highway 550 without law-enforcement escorts, but no formal decision has been made on when that may occur. He asked the public to stay flexible.
2:30 p.m.Firefighters released an updated acreage of the 416 Fire. The latest number released Wednesday afternoon is 27,420 acres. It is 15 percent contained, primarily along the Highway 550 corridor. The Burro Fire burning to the west was last estimated at 2,829 acres.
12:28 p.m.Evacuated residents of Rockwood, Tamarron and Glacier Club may return home Wednesday.
La Plata County spokeswoman Megan Graham said residents have from 2 to 6 p.m. to return home. This lifted evacuation notice affects 560 homes and 20 commercial businesses.
Residents must show their evacuation credentials, which can be obtained at Trimble Crossing at the intersection of U.S. Highway 550 and Trimble Lane, Escalante Middle School and at the highway’s northern closure point at mile marker 49.5.
These neighborhoods will still be under pre-evacuation orders, and will be subject to the closures of Highway 550.
The highway will be closed 6 p.m. Wednesday, and reopened 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday with police escort.
10 a.m.Fire officials battling the 416 Fire north of Durango have issued a containment date, or a date they believe a line will be built all the way around the fire, for July 31.
Though the fire is expected to continue burning until then, it doesn’t mean the Type I team will manage the fire the entirety of the time, or that people will be out of their homes for that long, spokeswoman Jamie Knight said. The date is not a set-in-stone time for when the fire will be completely contained.
Fire behaviorists, weather experts and operations specialists work together to come up with the estimated time. They look at factors including moisture levels, fuel levels, weather patterns, fire behavior and daily operations to determine the date.
Conversations about residents returning home have taken place between the incident command post and law-enforcement agencies. The incident managing team and the San Juan National Forest give input to the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office on evacuation notices, which ultimately makes the final decision. On Tuesday, San Juan County lifted evacuation orders for 184 homes.
On Wednesday, Day 13 of the 416 Fire, the blaze had grown to 25,900 acres and remains at 15 percent contained.
The total cost of firefighting operations has reached an estimated $10 million to date, Knight said. More than 1,000 firefighters will fight the fire Wednesday. Many will continue to monitor structures around the perimeter of the fire and monitor for potential spot fires that may occur. No structures have been lost.
“Given the fire behavior that we’ve been seeing and the amount of fire on the landscape and the amount of structures in the area, that’s a really good thing,” Knight said.
More burnouts are expected on the southwest perimeter of the fire near Junction Creek Road (County Road 204) in an effort to create a safe burn zone for the fire and eventually a containment line. These burnouts result in heavy smoke patterns that can be seen from Durango. Eight helicopters will continue to drop water to prevent the fire from reaching any structures.
“That’s the overall goal, to help use fire to guide it around some of those places where we just can’t put firefighters,” spokeswoman Jamie Knight said.
Crews will continue to mitigate and defend structures on the north and the east side of the fire, which hasn’t seen much fire activity the past couple of days.
“We don’t anticipate there being a big push there in that northeastern corner,” Knight said.
Crews will continue to build and maintain fire lines on the western perimeter of the fire. The goal is to get those lines secured to “box-in” the fire on the south end.
“It’s going to come down to a point there, and that’s what we’re striving to achieve there, is to get that all nicely brought together,” Knight said.
Though thunderstorms in the next few days could bring much-needed moisture to the area, officials are worried the storm could bring lightning and gusty winds that lead to unpredictable fire behavior.
Thunderstorms to the north and east of the fire could create gusty winds that could impact the fire today. The temperature at the fire is expected to reach a high of 86 degrees. Humidity levels are estimated between six and 12 percent.