Warmer, drier weather caused the 416 Fire to grow 100 acres Sunday, and fire officials expect the same conditions to last throughout the week.
Gusty winds throughout the day caused large plumes of smoke to fill the air, especially in the Hermosa drainage down into Hermosa and Honeyville. Fire officials expect the fire behavior to increase near North Hope Creek and Deer Creek. Smoke will also be more visible in these areas Monday.
A red flag warning was in effect all day Sunday.
According to a fire report Sunday evening, the fire grew to 34,378 acres and was 37 percent contained.
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Bethany Urban, a public information officer for the 416 Fire, said the plumes came from the west side of the fire, a front of the blaze that fire officials are allowing to burn as that edge doesn’t threaten lives or property and is in rugged terrain inaccessible to firefighters without endangering them.
While officials have not inserted firefighters along the fire’s west side, they will continue to monitor that front by air to ensure it doesn’t pose any risks. However, the risks to firefighter safety on the west side isn’t worth the reward, according to the Sunday morning news release on the fire.
The attack on the fire Sunday included helicopters dropping water and gel for about two hours on the southwest perimeter where direct and indirect lines meet.
That tactic, according to fire officials, helped calm the fire in that area.
The National Incident Management Organization team said time and effort by many residents in mitigating their properties along the 416 Fire’s southern and eastern perimeter paid off. And fire officials encourage all residents to continue to build defensible space around their homes.
Monday, a Burned Area Emergency Response team assigned to the 416 Fire will hold its first meeting to prepare for remediation. Assessments and subsequent efforts to remediate the area will be coordinated with the state of Colorado, La Plata County and the city of Durango.
The 416 Fire, which started June 1, has 475 personnel working on it.
As of Sunday, the blaze has cost $22.2 million to fight.
Because much of the fire is burning on the interior of the perimeter, fire officials says visible fire at night appears more ominous than it is.