A National Incident Management Organization team assumed command of the 34,224-acre 416 Fire at 6 a.m. Friday.
NIMO, a Type I team, has fewer personnel than the management team it replaced but has access to more resources if needed. As of Friday, 548 firefighters and three helicopters were working the blaze.
“There is still going to be work occurring on the fire,” spokeswoman Jamie Knight said. “There are still a good number of firefighters and crews and equipment here to respond to any issue in any place where it’s needed.”
The NIMO team will continue to monitor the weather as hot and dry conditions persist across the region. The area was under a red-flag warning Friday and will be under another red-flag warning from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. The National Weather Service also issued a “fire weather watch” from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
“Everybody’s definitely watching the weather and keeping an eye on both the forecast and the current conditions just to see how everything comes together and transpires,” Knight said. “Any time you have a red-flag warning or a fire weather watch, it’s a cause to proceed with a little bit more caution and keep eyes up and open to any changes in fire behavior and activity.”
Fire officials said most of the activity Friday would occur in the northwest corner of the fire, far away from any residences.
“The places they were most concerned about an increase in fire activity was kind of away from the areas that we had been previously worried about,” Knight said.
The fire was 37 percent contained Friday. Crews continued to assess areas where the fire is contained to monitor any heat sources near the containment lines. Hot-shot crews have been creating an indirect line on the southwest perimeter of the fire, but activity in the area has decreased during the last couple of days.
Crews are also beginning rehab work on the fire, which includes installing water bars to help prevent runoff. Before the monsoons arrive, a Burned Area Emergency Response team will assess post-fire conditions.
“They’ll go in there with crews and they’ll assess the need,” Knight said. “They’ll recommend and implement treatment and monitoring to ensure that stabilization and flood control before the monsoons come.”
County Road 205 reopened to full access Friday afternoon. Pre-evacuation notices remain in effect for Falls Creek and High Meadows subdivisions, as well as for residences and businesses on the west side of County Road 203 from Trimble Lane south to the U.S. Highway 550 intersection, the 1000 block of County Road 204 to the Colorado Trail access, and County Road 205 north from the intersection of County Road 204 to the Falls Creek Ranch subdivision entrance.
Stage 3 fire restrictions remain in effect for unincorporated areas of La Plata County and county-owned trails, open space and unimproved land, which means they are closed to public use.
The cost of firefighting efforts was $20.5 million, according to the most recent estimate available Friday.