|West Fork fire Tuesday evening in terrain
and fuel that's a firefighter's nightmare.
The West Fork Complex consists of two wildfires, West Fork and Windy Pass, that are burning on the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests in southwest Colorado. Both fires are burning in steep, rugged terrain with large amounts of beetle-killed spruce which makes it difficult and unsafe for firefighters to mount a direct attack.
Eric Norton, Fire Behavior Analyst for the NIMO Team, said The fire behavior we saw yesterday was so extreme, it was undocumented and unprecedented.
The fire made a 7 mile run to the northeast crossing the Continental Divide and burning on the ridge above Big Meadows Reservoir down to Metroz Lake. ... In some locations the fire is only 1/2 mile from Highway 160. The town of South Fork was evacuated at 0600 this morning. Structure protection is being done in South Fork and all additional resources have been sent there. Total acreage for the West Fork Complex is 29,900 acres.History and rolling stock mean very little compared to the worth of a human life and the homes already lost this year. Still, it should be noted that standard gauge equipment has historically been stored there at the junction of the San Luis & Rio Grande and the short line San Luis Central, and there is no current means for the average blogger to identify whose rail property is currently at risk. Also worth pointing out, the long-suffering Denver & Rio Grande Railroad is based in South Fork. Once the evacuation order has been lifted, it will depend on what damage exists before they resume operations.
This West Fork Complex fire is one of several active fires now burning in Colorado. The following map, put together by 9News.com, the Denver NBC affiliate, shows all of the identified fire locations.
View Colorado Wildfires June, 2013 in a larger map