Fire officials working on the 416 Fire 13 miles north of Durango warn that an increase in temperatures and dry and hot conditions could create a higher chance of smoke dispersal along U.S. Highway 550 today.
A forecasted rise in daytime temperatures, decreased relative humidity, and accompanying downslope winds could lead to an increase in fire activity, which could potentially impact communities along the highway corridor, according to a news release issued by the National Incident Management Team this morning. The downslope winds will continue throughout the night, increasing smoke levels in the Durango area.
The fire, which started June 1, grew more than 200 acres Monday and is now 35,195 acres. It is 36 percent contained.
Crews will spend today doing burnouts on the southwest perimeter of the fire along County Road 204 in an effort to secure and improve existing fire lines. Firefighters hope the offensive tactics will remove fuels in advance of the fire to control the fire. Crews plan to use County Road 204 as the primary fire line during operations.
Fire officials say the burnouts could increase the amount of smoke, particularly for residents in Falls Creek and Junction Creek. The burnouts will also be aided by aerial support. Three helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft will be joining the 459 firefighters assigned to the fire.
Crews will also continue improving existing fire lines along Highway 550 and help residents with fuel reduction near homes. Firefighters will continue to chip vegetation piles created during fire suppression activities during the initial onset of the incident and encourage the public to contact fire crews if vegetation piles have not been addressed and removed.