A shift in wind direction has caused thick smoke to hit the Hermosa community Saturday afternoon.
Winds have been hitting the fire from the northwest, pushing smoke from the active fire down the Hermosa Creek drainage.
Fire officials have noted that the fire behavior hasn’t been as active as it has been the previous two days. Gusty winds combined with dry and hot conditions caused the 416 Fire to grow more than 5,000 acres Friday. The 416 Fire, now totaling 47,031 acres, has grown almost 10,000 acres in the past two days.
Currently, the fire remains 37 percent contained.
The fire expanded mainly in the northwest on Friday, as southwest winds pushed the fire northeast toward Purgatory.
“Right now, the fire is moving that direction,” said spokeswoman Brandalyn Vonk.
Aircraft will continue to monitor the northwest perimeter of the fire, and resources will be moved north to assess previously installed fire lines around Purgatory. Crews will also continue to reassess structure-protection strategies implemented in the Electra Lake and Purgatory areas. The area remains under pre-evacuation notice.
“We don’t want people to have a high level of concern where they’re packing stuff up and heading out,” Vonk said. “We want to keep everyone safe. We want everyone to be aware and not be complacent.”
Fire officials expect similar growth of the fire for the next two days as high winds continue to increase fire activity. A red-flag warning remains in effect because of increased winds, hot temperatures and low relative humidity.
A dry cold front is expected to pass through the fire area late Saturday afternoon, bringing stronger and gustier winds. As this cold front passes, the winds will shift from the west to a more northerly flow.
The priority for fire officials remains along the southwest perimeter of the fire, where crews will continue burnout operations to secure a fire line along Forest Road 171. Helicopters will continue to support operations by dropping water on hot spots to hold the containment line.
Officials hope the burnouts will result in a full containment line in the area.
Heavy smoke will remain in the towns of Hermosa and Durango, but should clear out by mid-afternoon. A smoke advisory was in effect from 10 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday.
Health officials recommend limiting outdoor activities, especially for people with respiratory illnesses or heart disease, the elderly and children. If visibility is less than 5 miles, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy.
The health department, in conjunction with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, have placed air-quality monitors in the area. The monitors can be viewed by visiting https://bit.ly/2Nfeee2.
Staffers with the National Incident Management Organization will make themselves available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to talk to the public about the fire. They will be at Dunn Deal Resale Store, 3101 Main Ave., and south City Market, 6 Town Plaza, during those times.