This is a developing story. Updates posted back to the same page as we get them.
August 30, 2020:
East Fork Fire slows growth crews increase containment
by Bill Knowles
LAS ANIMAS COUNTY – The East Fork Fire grew by only three acres over the week due to an increase in the number of firefighters, 55 to 95, entering the fray. This kept the fire to 1,680 acres and increased the containment from 10% to 15% after a week of intense work in rugged canyons littered with standing snags and dead fuels like downed pinon pine that litter the steep canyons.
The fire went from 335 acres Thursday to 1,680 acres by Sunday evening.
Limited fire behavior and growth overnight Saturday kept fire growth at bay and helped increase the containment area. Additional helicopter suppression work allowed firefighters to put control lines in place on the South side of the fire. Firefighters will continue to reinforce and improve control lines over the next few days.
Although the fire remains in Colorado, a watershed near Raton, NM is threatened and has seen some impact above Lake Dorothey. The fire continues to burn on 2 State Wildlife Areas: James M John State Wildlife Area (SWA) and Lake Dorothey SWA.
Evacuations have been lifted for all New Mexico residences however the Lake Dorothy SWA in Colorado is still closed.
Aircraft and ground resources continue to use a full suppression strategy where safely possible to do so and minimize impacts on private land. A dozer line has been completed around the fire on the Fisher’s Peak and Little Fisher’s Peak Mesa. Today, National Guard helicopters will be conducting bucket work today and dozers are working along the southern flank from Lake Dorothey to the west. Crews will continue to utilize indirect line and burnout operations for the majority of the fire.
The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) is coordinating with Raton, New Mexico (NM), NM Forestry Division, Colorado Parks & WIldlife, Las Animas County, Las Animas County Sheriff and Hoehne VFD.
Fire Restrictions: As a reminder, Stage 1 Fire restrictions are in effect in Las Animas County. This is due not only to the potential for high winds, but the moisture content of potential fuels at lower elevations as well as the limited resources available to combat a large-scale fire due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Donations are being accepted. Fire crews battling the East Fork Fire are in need of cases of bottled water, nonperishable food items, and basic toiletries. Please use the contact information below to find out how you can help! Drop off donation sites include:
- Fire Station 1 – 1605 Santa Fe Trail
- Fire Station 2 – 1102 Nevada Avenue
August 27, 2020:
East Fork Fire grows threatens Raton watershed more firefighters and equipment called in
Las Animas County – The East Fork Fire located 11 miles southeast of Trinidad, Colo., near the Colorado – New Mexico border, has grown to 338 acres and is 10% contained. The fire is currently threatening the Raton, NM watershed and three primary residences southeast of the fire according to a CDPS update last Thursday morning.
Beginning last Wednesday morning, the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) began providing advanced technical assistance to Las Animas County on the East Fork Fire, and the Colorado Department of Public Safety began providing morning and evening updates Thursday.
Assumption of control of the East Fork Fire was turned over to DFPC at 6 a.m. on Wednesday August 26, 2020 under the command of Larry Long, DFPC Battalion Chief. Type III engines and crews are on scene and air drops on the fire were started Thursday. A Las Animas County tender and operator, that had been present at the fire earlier in the week and released, was requested back to the scene according to a CDPS press release.
Crews have engaged the fire with direct tactics in the areas where it is safe to do so. The fire is burning in a steep canyon, with heavy down and dead fuels, and standing snags. Areas, roads, and trails have been scouted out and assessed for indirect tactics in addition to installing indirect lines and beginning burnout operations on West, North, and East flanks.
Agencies involved include the Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC), Hoehne Volunteer Fire Department, Las Animas County and the Las Animas County Sheriff. There are 25 total personnel fighting the fire and aerial support in the form of a large air tanker and the Multi Mission Aircraft (MMA). Additional DFPC Engines and Modules have been dispatched and will be arriving over the next few days to support burnout operations. Fire personnel will continue to monitor and engage the fire when possible and when the safety and lives of firefighters is not at risk.