Shawna Hartman, public information officer for the Decker Fire burning 2 miles south of Salida said as of 8 a.m. Monday, Oct. 7, increased fire behavior is possible today.
Hartman said if winds align with drainages, an unstable air mass over the fire could result in a fire plume.
In the past few days heavy smoke was “sheared” by brisk winds, she said, which did not allow for the formation of a plume.
On Sunday the fire grew to 6,300 acres, up about 400 acres from Saturday.
Some 800 firefighters are fighting the fire which has spread to 2 miles south of Salida.
Hartman said work continues on all areas of the fire.
Dozer and hand lines have been created on the fire’s north end on Methodist Mountain.
Because of the relatively mild winds Sunday, Hartman said crews were able to work directly on fire lines building towards containment.
She said though the percentage of containment has not increased, remaining at 5 percent, crews are “working towards containment” with progress made Sunday.
Hartman said the glow from the fire was obvious again Sunday night because of the “thermal belt” hanging over the fire.
A thermal belt, she said, is warm air that gets trapped in areas over the fire.
Normally, a fire lays down with somewhat higher humidity at night with reduced fire activity resulting.
But with a thermal belt layer over the fire, it remains active.
The thermal belt, combined with low humidity carrying over from earlier Sunday, resulted in the fire being active through the night into early Monday morning.
Hartman said the unstable air mass over the fire today could provide “a lot of lift into the air.”
A smoke plume could be the result.
“Today, that smoke, and heat will be able to keep lifting,” Hartman said, “and there won’t be strong winds to shear it off.”
As a result she said “there is more potential for that plume to dominate the fire.”
Hartman said with the mild weather Sunday crews were able to work right along edges of the fire with hot shot crews, dozer and “brushing” improving fine lines.
“If we see containment go up it would be along that northrn boundary of the fire,” Hartman said.
She said that on Monday, increasing firefighting resources would be spread out over every division of the fire.
Work on contingency lines on the west side of the fire in Saguache County in the San Luis Valley continues.
The fire in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, she said, is in really rugged terrain.
“If the fire comes out of the wilderness,” she said, “there would be a higher potential for success because the indirect lines would help slow the spread of the fire” where fire crews could engage the fire directly.
Hand crews are working at creating lines on the Rainbow Trail.
She said in the Howard area, work was being done today to protect homes with crews laying out water tanks, pumps, fire hoses and sprinklers to protect homes should the fire spread to the east.
The Decker Fire started with a Sept. 8 lighting strike in the Decker Creek drainage of the Sangre de Cristo mountains roughly 5 miles southeast of Poncha Pass in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area of the Rio Grande National Forest.
It subsequently spread into the San Isabel National Forest.