With the 416 Fire continuing to burn, Durango and surrounding communities are feeling more and more of its effects. Beyond the morning haze, hundreds of residences have been evacuated and larger businesses like Purgatory Resort and Silverpick Lodge have had to pause their operations. The economy has experienced a decline, mostly due to lower tourism numbers since the onset of the burn. LPOSC aims to be a community resource as the 416 Fire continues to burn, not just for affiliated landowners but for all members of the community.
“After weeks of intense fire activity and scorching more than 54,000 acres, the 416 Fire was declared 100 percent contained Tuesday afternoon.” Read more on KOAA. Flooding, mudslides, and erosion continue to be a threat.
The 416 fire has been relatively inactive over the past few days. Inciweb reports acreage at 34,962, with 37% perimeter containment. Last Thursday saw the reopening of all public lands, however with Stage 2 restrictions in place. The smoke forecast is moderate, and expected to continue through the afternoon due to the still drying conditions. Remember to use maximum caution while in fire prone areas, and to obey all postings.
The Burro fire is at 3,771 acres with 40% containment.
The San Juan National Forest, BLM lands around Durango, and Lake Nighthorse are expected to reopen tomorrow, June 21st, at 3pm. Closures around the active fires will remain in effect. Read more from La Plata County Government‘s Facebook, or from the Durango Herald, or the City of Durango‘s Facebook.
Durango city lands are expected to open soon as well.
While there have been recent improvements in the fire’s activity, the burn is still active and it is crucial that we still continue to support local organizations as well as the fire department.
34,161 acres, 35% contained. See more on InciWeb.
After the weekend’s humid weather, the fire has slowed, however the coming week will bring dry weather that is likely to increase fire activity. Read more here.
La Plata County Government reports that all evacuees of Falls Creek and High Meadows can return to their homes, as of 11:00 am today.
The air quality and smoke report is good for the coming days.
As of this morning, Inciweb reports that the 416 Fire rests at 34,161 acres and is 30% contained. The fire slowed this weekend due to rain and increased humidity.
A flash flood alert was issued yesterday, June 17th. La Plata Government shared the following on Facebook:
“The National Weather Service has issued A FLASH FLOOD WARNING that remains in effect until 9 a.m.
Today at 8 a.m., evacuated residents and businesses (east and west sides of US 550) from Glacier Club to Needles can return to their homes and businesses. US 550 will be open without an escort beginning at 8 a.m.
Fire behavior will still be limited on the 416 Fire today. There should be little to no growth. Some heavy fuels may continue to burn. The chance of ignition is minimal.
U.S. Highway 550 will be open without an escort as of 8 a.m. today.”
The San Juan Nation Forest remains closed.
The smoke forecast predicts little to moderate impacts in the coming days.
Humidity will stay elevated in the coming days, per The Weather Channel.
Despite the slowing of the fire the weekend, make sure to stay tuned for updates on the fire as well as flood risk.
From La Plata County Government:
“In the interest of public health, safety and welfare, the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners enacted Stage 3 fire restrictions, effective immediately. This action, which increases the level of fire restrictions in unincorporated areas of the county, was enacted as a result of the increasing fire danger and drought conditions that gave rise to the Stage 1 and Stage 2 fire conditions.
“Stage 3 will add the following additional closures/restrictions/ prohibitions:
- The closure of all La Plata County owned trails, encampments, open space, and unimproved lands.
- Those agricultural producers exempt from fire bans pursuant to C.R.S. §§ 30-15-401(n.5)(III) and 35-28-104(11) may perform agricultural burning only with 48 hours prior notification to the appropriate fire chief or the Sheriff.
- Indoor fire places and wood-burning stoves without an approved interior and exterior chimney spark arrestor.
- The sale, discharge or use of any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device (including 4th of July celebrations).
- The use of floating sky lanterns, fire balloons or acetylene balloons.
- Discharge of firearms or the use of exploding targets, unless under the circumstances described in C.R.S. § 30-15-302.
- Blasting in development areas or construction areas.
- The use of an explosive, blasting caps, or any other incendiary device, including the use of any model rockets.
- Flaring for oil and gas production wells.
- Operation of coal-fired steam engines.”
More information and explanations of Stages 1 and 2 restrictions can be found here.
In addition to the national forest closures, La Plata County, the City of Durango, and CPW will be closing state park lands and wildlife areas. From the Durango Herald:
“Later Tuesday, the city of Durango passed an emergency ordinance that closed all of its open space and trails, which includes Horse Gulch, Dalla Mountain Park, Overend Mountain Park, Carbon Junction, the lower portion of Animas City Mountain and the Durango Dog Park.
Then, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced the closure of Bodo, Perins Peak, Haviland Lake, Devil Creek and Williams Creek state wildlife areas until further notice.”
Read more here.
“CPW does want to remind the public of the places that will remain open, and ask people to comply with the local current fire restrictions. Those open areas include, Echo Canyon SWA in Archuleta County; Pastorious SWA in La Plata County; in Montezuma and Dolores counties — Summit, Puett, Narraguinnep, Totten, Twin Spruce, Dolores River, Joe Moore and Ground Hog Reservoir state wildlife areas.”
Read more here.
To sign up for emergency notifications through Code Red, click here.
For air quality information from San Juan Basin Public Health, click here.
For more information on how you can help support Durango’s local economy from Local First, click here.
For information from La Plata County Government, click here.
For Colorado State Forest Service‘s wildfire mitigation plans, click here.
For evacuation information and more from FireWise Southwest Colorado, click here.
For BLM Colorado Fire Information, click here.
source: Firewise Southwest Colorado
Please look to La Plata County Government for up to date information on pre-evacuation and evacuation orders, via their website and Facebook page, as well as the 416 Fire page. Additionally, sign up for CodeRed for mobile alerts.
At your residence, take preventative steps. Make sure there are no piles of firewood stacked near the house. If you are issued an evacuation notice, be careful to take important items with you, like identification and legal documents, medications (if any), keepsakes, or relevant vaccination records for your pets. Move any propane or fuel tanks away from the house, and unplug major appliances. Leave outdoor lights on so your home is visible to firefighters. Make sure there is no running water, like from a sink or hose spigot. There is a 24-hour evacuation center at Escalante Middle School (141 Baker Lane, Durango, CO). More information can be found here.
source: Natural Resources Conservation Service
Constructing fuel breaks on at-risk land can do a lot to stop the spread of the burn. This means reducing the fuel available to the fire. For more information on the specifics, click here. Additionally, it is important to replant native species on fuel breaks so as to prevent weed growth and to further stabilize the ecosystem. However, be careful to comply with existing laws regarding proper land use.
source: Queensland Government
After the fire stops burning, there are several risks associated with affected ecosystems. Due to significant loss of vegetation and their root systems, land becomes prone to erosion and increased flooding. To combat this, several preventative measures can be taken. Constructing fences on inclines or where flooding and erosion may occur can reduce the risks associated with these. Replanting vegetation will reintroduce root systems, thereby securing the soil below. For more information click here.