by Mary Lowers
A lightning strike September 8 ignited the Decker Fire nine miles south of Salida. Smoke and sometimes flames can be seen from Hwy. 50 and US 285. The fire has been allowed to burn in the area where the US Forest Service reports there is 80% tree mortality due to beetle kill and blow downs. The fire has not generated evacuations or closures. As we go to press it has burned around nine hundred acres. There are 107 personnel managing the blaze.
According to the US Forest Service, “Decker Fire is being managed to remove high risk fuels from the landscape for ecological benefit and to remove the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the future.” Current conditions including low humidity are causing more fire activity. The fire is reported to be travelling north toward Methodist Mountain.
Spot fires have started when sparks from the main fire ignited dry fuel. The fire is encouraged to grow by clear skies, high winds, and low humidity. According to reports on the fire from the San Juan Hotshots Fire Crew these hot spots are being carefully monitored and “will be engaged as needed.” Infrared flight at night over the blaze indicate where hotspots are located.
The fire has been fueled mainly by dead and downed trees, with lighter fuels such as grass and brush catching quickly. Fire crews have constructed “contingency lines on the east and west sides of the fire.” They stand ready to fight the fire if it gets too big or spreads in the wrong direction.
Brett Vanderver reported on FaceBook about the SW Conservation Corps (SCC) crew fighting the Decker Fire. This crew is out of Salida and is made up of military veterans. Fire Incident Commander, John Markalunas said, “It’s really nice to be able to provide folks that served our country with training, experience and opportunities. Their military background makes them a great fit for this kind of work.”
Decker Fire spokespeople ask that 911 calls be for emergencies only! For information of the fire call 719-626-1085 or go to Decker Fire 2019 on FaceBook.