Decker Fire Saturday update map

Friday saw less activity than in previous days from the Decker Fire due to lower winds and higher humidity.

The chance of high winds today has prompted a pre-evacuation from the Howard, Pine Ridge, Wellsville and Swissvale communities yesterday.

During the meeting Friday in Howard, Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper said the pre-evacuation was an “in case” type of thing. 

“I don’t want you folks to be caught flat footed,” he said. 

He also said if they go into evacuation there won’t be time to move livestock so he’s suggesting they move them now. They can take them to the Chaffee County Fairgrounds if they need a place. 

To get on the phone list for evacuation updates, go to fremontco.com/alert-fremont.

A new, interactive fire map can be seen at arcg.is/1zPGWH.

Helicopters were able to fly and drop water for most of the day Friday.

Air crews will continue working today, depending on wind speeds, which may cause grounding.

New resources arrived on Friday, with the crews now 730 people, and more crews and engines on the way.

The fire, which was started on Sept. 8 by a lightning strike, has reached 5,921 acres and is 5 percent contained.

Along the west side of the fire, crews of the A and R Divisions made “significant progress” on the dozer line, the incident command team said in a press release.

There are now dozer lines connecting Divisions A and R, which proceed northwards and connect with CR 128. They will improve firelines and continue monitoring any possible changes.

Division T, on the northeast area of the fire, have constructed direct handlines and some dozer lines around most of the fire reaching toward Bear Creek.

Division X, working on the northwest area, are improving existing road systems. They will be scouting for additional fireline options further south of the fire.

Structure protection crews have been assessing homes in Howard  and the surrounding communities and will continue to do so today. 

Area fire managers have restructured the divisions of the fire, and there is no longer Division S. A new Division W has been established on the east to focus on areas between Howard and the fire.

Division W, which is located in “treacherous wilderness terrain” will be scouting for fireline options between the fire and Howard. 

Crews with Division R will work to improve dozer lines today, connecting with Powerline Road. 

Crews in Division T will direct the handline around Columbine Trail.

A Rapid Extraction Module (REM) has been assigned to the area. These are firefighter-paramedics trained in high and low angle rope rescues, so if a firefighter is injured or incapacitated in a hard to reach area, the REM can create rope and pully systems to extract them to a location where an ambulance or helicopter can evacuate them.

There is a red flag warning by the National Weather Service due to high winds until 8 p.m. tonight.

Weather predictions for today are for strong winds throughout the day, with humidities dipping into the low teens and temperatures between 45 and 55.

Winds will be from the north-northwest at 25-35 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph. 

Gusts has high as 55 mph are possible across the fire areas between 3-6 p.m.

Winds through Saturday night may see gusts up to 40 mph

The air quality index (AQI) for today is Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups in the Howard area, and sensitive groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.

Salida and Poncha Springs AQI is Moderate; unusually sensitive individuals should consider limiting prolonged or heavy exertion.

Buena Vista AQI is rated Good for Saturday.

Hunters should check with Colorado Parks and Wildlife or Bureau of Land Management to check if their assigned hunting area is being affected by the fire, as several of the areas have been closed.

For more information you can go to our website, themountainmail.com, DeckerFire2019 on Facebook, or inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6592.

For air quality updates, see bit.ly/deckerfiresmoke.

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