Current situation: Weekend storms and breezy weather increased fire activity on the Sand Creek Fire, creating more smoke than was seen late last week. The fire continues smoldering in the heavy fuels, slowly “cleaning up” the numerous fallen trees left from the 2012 Little Sand Fire.
The Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control Multi-Mission Aircraft mapped the fire yesterday and found some heat within the fire’s perimeter but did not detect measurable growth. On Monday, firefighters will continue monitoring the Sand Creek Fire as it is expected to continue smoldering in the heavy fuels.
Weather and fuel conditions: Today, clouds will break slightly around 10 a.m. Winds will increase throughout the day, becoming gusty over the fire in the afternoon. Temperatures are expected to hover in the upper 70s and humidity will settle around 15 percent.
Evacuations and closures: A forest closure is in effect around the fire area. The full text and a map of the closure can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/6790/. The Piedra River Trail (596), Little Sand Creek Trail (591), Lower Weminuche Trail (595), Coldwater Trail (597), and Coldwater Stock Trail (598) are all presently open. The Sand Creek Trail (593) and North Ridge Trail (594) are the only trails that are closed at this time. Mosca Road, NFSR 631 is also closed within the fire area. NFSR 631 east of the fire area is restricted to local traffic only. Please see today’s map for the extent of the Mosca Road closures and restrictions.
Smoke outlook: Yesterday’s increased fire activity produced a bit more smoke, and migrated down canyon along the Piedras River in the overnight hours. Air quality moved into the moderate category for a couple of hours around midnight, and retuned to good within an hour. Increased fire activity can be expected to generate smoke that will impact air quality. Smoke from fires in Arizona and Utah continues to push into western/southwestern Colorado, and may be noticed as slight haze. As always, if you smell smoke, you’re breathing smoke. Take actions to avoid smoke exposure especially if you’re sensitive. Information on air quality and a smoke forecast for the area can be found at https://fires.airfire.org/outlooks/SWColorado.
Fire restrictions: Fire danger across the region is rated as extreme. Fire restrictions are in place on the San Juan National Forest. Archuleta County and Hinsdale County have both enacted Stage 1 Fire Restrictions.
Temporary flight restrictions: A temporary flight restriction is in place over the Sand Creek Fire. Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Every time a drone is spotted near the fire all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of the area. For more information, visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org.
Sand Creek Fire statistics:
Size: 71 acres
Location: Approximately 20 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs
Containment: 0 percent
Total Personnel: 198