Chinook helicopter dumps water

Courtesy photo

A Chinook helicopter dumps water on the Decker Fire. Containment on the fire reached 14 percent Tuesday.

Decker Fire containment reached 14 percent on Tuesday.

Over the past two weeks, containment consistently was reported at 5 percent, a number that hadn’t changed for several days.

However, weather continues to challenge firefighters.

Jonathan Asford, a fire public information officer, said the red-flag warning Tuesday will extend through today.

The forecast for Salida today calls for highs in the mid-70s with mostly sunny skies and winds increasing to 15-20 mph in the afternoon.

The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for Chaffee, Fremont, Lake and Teller counties for this afternoon and evening. The watch indicates that conditions favor the spread of fire. Gusts up to 35 mph and relative humidity as low as 10 percent are predicted.

Ashford said the fire grew to 6,402 acres on Monday, an increase of less than 100 acres from Sunday’s 6,326 acres. The firefighting force grew to 896.

He said heavy smoke over the fire on Monday came from previously unburned fuels in the fire perimeter.

“The fire doesn’t burn everything in its path,” Ashford said. “It’s cleaning up on the interior.”

Ashford said crews continue to work on establishing a “black line” around the fire.

On the fire’s east side, crews completed work on direct line in the Boot Hill and Bear Creek area.

Ashford said hand crews have established a direct line completely around the fire’s northeast finger, which had been burning in the Boot Hill area and toward Bear Creek.

Ashford said highly trained hot- shot crews have been working literally on the fire’s edges, keeping the fire from advancing.

Crews worked Tuesday east of Poncha Pass on the fire’s west side along CR 124. Ashford said that if conditions were favorable, crews would begin work directly on the fire’s west edge.

A dozer line has been established on the west side for much of the fire’s north-south length, from just north of the Rainbow Trail to Dorsey Creek just east of Poncha Pass.

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.

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