Early Wednesday morning Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze began issuing evacuation orders for areas affected by the Decker fire.
The fire, which grew about 1,500 acres to 3,700 acres after midnight due to high winds, reached a point where evacuation was deemed prudent.
Early morning evacuation announcements included Methodist Mountain Estates, Boot Hill, Piñon Ridge Estates, Mountain Village Trailer Park (formerly Paradise Acres) and subdivisions near Methodist Mountain in the area from CR 110, 111 to CR 104, including residents above Tudor Rose on CR 104.
Evacuees were sent to the Chaffee County Fairgrounds where they were asked to sign in with the Red Cross in order to be accounted for.
Most overnight evacuees checked in and found other accommodations and had left the fairgrounds by about 9:30 a.m.
Large animals such as horses were also given temporary board at the fairgrounds until other arrangements could be made.
Small animals, such as cats and dogs were offered sanctuary at Ark-Valley Humane Society in Buena Vista and Gone to the Dogs.
The first set of evacuations included about 110 different homes.
Those in the evacuation areas were notified by the Everbridge system and door to door notification by Sheriff’s deputies. Houses were marked and tagged as having been evacuated.
Some residents opted to stay in their homes.
While homeowners can do that, Spezze said they advise against it since it is not only the homeowners who are put in potential danger, but emergency responders who may have to rescue them if things go wrong.
In addition to the evacuations, several roads into the fire area have been closed to local traffic by the Sheriff’s office. Those include CR 101, CR 104, CR 107 and CR 110 and south of CR 111. Residents on those roads who need access can be escorted in by law enforcement.
About 1:30 p.m. Spezze issued a mandatory evacuation order for homes from CR 104 east to CR 101, including County Road 101 and Fremont County Road 49 (Bear Creek) .
The new evacuation area included about 20 homes, said Spezze, many of which are only seasonally occupied.
Deputies will be actively patrolling evacuation areas for safety and security until the evacuation order is lifted.
Evacuees were asked to report to Salida United Methodist Church, 228 E. Fourth St. for accountability and information after Chaffee County Fairgrounds was offered as a site for the new type 1 incident command to be established Friday.
For more information about boarding animals contact the AVHS Shelter at 719-395-2737 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reach Gone to the Dogs contact manager, Alex Spence at 719-539-4220 or stop by. Space will be limited.
For information about evacuations, visit the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Facebook page or call the non-emergency line at 719-539-2596.