Since Thursday, the Decker Fire has seen less activity, Howard-area residents got a pre-evacuation order, two buildings have been destroyed, the Bureau of Land Management has issued fire restrictions, the evacuation shelter has been moved to the Scout Hut in Riverside Park and –welcome good news – some evacuees got to return home.
The fire started with a lightning strike Sept. 8 near the Decker Creek drainage in the Rio Grande National Forest and now is burning about 2 miles south of Salida.
As of Sunday morning, the fire had grown to 6,155 acres, with 806 firefighters assigned and containment at 5 percent.
Sunday growth will be updated Monday morning.
Saturday’s high winds were anticipated to blow the fire to the east and northeast toward Howard, but they largely blew above the fire. As a result, the fire grew by only about 200 acres Saturday and there wasn’t as much smoke in the air.
According to the inciweb report Sunday, the estimated containment date is Dec. 20.
Fremont County Sheriff reported Friday that a vacation home, camper and shed were destroyed by the fire on Bear Creek Wednesday. The home was not occupied at the time.
Chaffee County Sheriff reported a hunter’s cabin off Methodist Mountain was destroyed by the fire. No other details were available.
Fremont County Sheriff issued a pre-evacuation warning for areas of Howard, Pine Ridge, Wellsville and Swissvale Friday.
The sheriff said people should start by making a list of things they will need or want to take with them in case they need to leave in a hurry, and then put together a go-bag for each family member in case of an emergency evacuation.
Evacuation headquarters moved
Evacuation headquarters was moved Sunday from the United Methodist Church to the Salida Rotary Scout Hut on Sackett Avenue at Riverside Park.
The announcement was made at a meeting at the church Friday for evacuees.
Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said about 130 residences have been ordered evacuated, affecting 300-plus people.
He said in the past three days, deputies have escorted about 70 people back to their homes to retrieve necessities. Because of volume and workload, return visits are limited to 15 minutes.
To arrange the required escort, evacuees are asked to call the sheriff’s office at 719-539-2596.
Top priority in the nation
At the meeting, Tracy LeClair, a fire public information officer, said the Decker Fire has been designated as the top wildfire priority in the country.
Fire restrictions issued
The BLM issued stage 2 fire restrictions on all BLM-administered land in Lake, Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, Saguache and Alamosa counties Friday.
The restriction includes the following prohibitions:
• Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal barbecue or grills.
• Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
• Operating a chain saw without a U.S. Department of Agriculture or Society of Automotive Engineers-approved spark arrester properly installed and working and a chemical fire extinguisher of not less than 8 ounces capacity by weight, and one round point shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches.
• Using a welder, either arc or gas, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.
• Using exploding targets.
The use of portable stoves, lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed.
Evacuation orders rescinded
Spezze announced a partial lift of the evacuation order effective 3 p.m. Sunday, sending some of the evacuees back to their homes.
Residents of Fawn Ridge, CR 110, 111, 111a, Mountain Vista Estates, Paradise Acres and residences above Mountain Vista Estate accessed from CR 104 were allowed to return home.
Also rescinded were evacuations of residents living east of CR 104, accessed from private drives south of U.S. 50 with the exception of residents living on CR 101, Bear Creek.
Chaffee County residents living on CR 101 remain under an evacuation order.
Residents allowed back on Sunday were notified they remain in pre-evacuation status.
Command post moved
Sunday the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office Command Post moved to CR 107-108. Residents of Methodist Estates and Boot Hill are asked to go to this location for escorts into their homes.
Access on CR 108 and the powerline road into the Methodist evacuation area still will be controlled.
The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office continues to provide 24-hour patrols in the evacuation area.