CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Emergency crews near Salida are working to keep the Decker Fire from reaching subdivisions in the area. The fire started last month, but blew up Tuesday into Wednesday, forcing about 130 families to evacuate in the middle of the night. At least one structure has been damaged, officials confirmed Thursday, but couldn’t provide any other details.
On Thursday morning, the Type 1 Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team (IMT) assumed command of the Decker Fire with Mark Giacoletto as Incident Commander. More than 250 people are fighting the fire.
Officials said it’s not clear when evacuees might be able to return to their homes.
“I don’t see it being soon,” Giacoletto said Thursday.
Officials said the infrared aircraft was unable to fly Wednesday night due to mechanical issues, so there is not an exact update on the perimeter or the size of the fire. The fire burned at least 5,348 acres and just 5% contained on Thursday night.
“We know the fire has grown several hundred acres,” officials said Thursday morning.
On Wednesday, fire on the north-facing aspect of Methodist Mountain was driven northeast and east by wind. The fire crossed over the Rainbow Trail, prompting an evacuation of the Bear Creek neighborhood along CR 101. Fire moved east toward CR 101 and the Bear Creek drainage, officials stated.
Crews worked aggressively Wednesday in Division R near the Boot Hill and Bear Creek neighborhoods to limit the spread of the fire.
“Bulldozers created a fire line parallel to the power lines heading east toward the 101, and heavy aircraft dropped retardant between the fire and the Boot Hill and Bear Creek neighborhoods,” officials stated.
On Thursday, firefighters in Division R planned to construct more fire lines heading east toward CR 101.
“If conditions allow, they may perform firing operations to eliminate unburned fuel between the fire front and the values at risk in Boot Hill,” officials said.
“Resources for the night operational period have been increased, and multiple crews, engines, and managers will be working overnight to monitor fire behavior and protect values,” officials added.
Commander Giacoletto said the humidity was slightly better and it wasn’t as windy on Thursday, but more dry, windy weather is expected in the coming days.
The fire was started by lightning on Sept. 8 and is burning about nine miles south of Salida in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness.
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