By Matt Kroschel


CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Hundreds of firefighters and a Type 1 incident management team are pouring into the Upper Arkansas River Valley as the Decker Fire continues to burn dangerously close to neighborhoods. It is the top priority fire burning in the U.S. right now.

Decker Fire

Decker Fire (credit: Kimmie Randall)

The fire Started by lightning Sept. 8 and up until a few days ago was allowed to burn in the wilderness without any suppression being used to actively fight it. That decision is something many people are questioning now as the fire exploded in size to more than 5,000 acres. One structure has burned.

Decker Fire on Oct. 2, 2019 (credit: Joe Randall)

“So this rule about letting it burn I don’t believe that’s a good rule, I can see why they do it they save money I suppose and they like to say that they get rid of bad word but it really would be so much better put it out utilize the materials us from having to go through this,” Fremont County resident Patrick Hawkins said Thursday.

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Patrick Hawkins (credit: CBS)

“That fire up there had been burning for quite some time and they say it’s in an area where I don’t mind it all burning but to tell you the truth look what happened.”

Decker Fire near Salida, wildfire smoke on Oct. 2, 2019

An image of the Decker Fire near Salida on Wednesday. (credit: CBS)

Forest Service officials say they stand by the decision to not engage the fire until it moved closer to private property and homes, they admit they didn’t expect to see the fire activity they have encounter over the last 48 hours.

Decker Fire colorado wildfires salida

Decker Fire is burning 9 miles south of Salida (credit: CBS)

“We’re going to keep our firefighters safe and we’re going to put them where they have the highest probability of success to putting it out and even with aircraft in that fuel type it would’ve been very difficult to put the fire out,” Decker Fire public information officer Shawna Hartman told CBS4 Thursday.

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The Decker Fire burning near Salida (credit: CBS)

Thursday, the Type 1 fire incident team took control of the fire attack, bringing with them hundreds of more firefighters, more aircraft and hopefully some luck.

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The Decker Fire burning near Salida (credit: CBS)

Wildfire Resources

– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Colorado Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile), the deadliest (Storm King) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado.

Matt Kroschel

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