As hot and dry conditions increase and temperatures climb to the low 90s, fire officials say the 416 Fire 13 miles north of Durango could grow over the next 24 hours.
Fire meteorologists forecast temperatures to increase by five to eight degrees. The increase in temperature, along with low relative humidity and daily wind patterns, mark critical fire weather and should increase fire behavior throughout the burning period. There is a red flag warning over the fire area until 8 p.m. today and again from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday.
Strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures contribute to extreme fire behavior, prompting red flag warnings.
The fire, which started June 1, is currently 35,196 acres and is 36 percent contained. Officials are expecting to contribute to the growth as crews continue planned burnout operations near the southwestern perimeter of the fire, including along Junction Creek Road on the western perimeter of the fire and on a hand line south of Buck Creek. These burnouts will cause an increase of smoke in the area.
Heavy smoke spread throughout La Plata County this morning. The smoke is expected to decrease in the area later today before picking up again tonight. Fire officials are also expecting smoke to increase to the northeast of the fire toward Silverton.
The operations on the ground will be aided from the air by four helicopters throughout the day. Helicopters will again use plastic sphere dispensers to introduce fire in areas that are inaccessible on the ground and will also drop buckets of water along the fire’s perimeter.
Fire crews will continue to help homeowners with removal and reduction of vegetation piles created during initial fire suppression actives along the Highway 550 corridor north of Honeyville.
The San Juan National Forest has begun working to restore areas within the 416 fire area that are safe to enter.
The fire management team is actively working on repairing damage to resources caused by suppression activities, including seeding, installing water bars, and restoring clearings and drainage ditches.
An additional team that will address the long-term response is being assembled to identify imminent post-wildfire threats to human life, property and natural resources on National Forest lands. The team will perform an assessment of the effects from the fire and identify areas of high risk before beginning to address the problems.
This team will not address long-term restoration and recovery needs. The San Juan National Forest will address those needs, including trail repair, weed treatment and reforestation, once the fire is out.
People who want to see the location of the fire in proximity to their house and the perimeter for the fire can use this map created by Fort Lewis College.