Incident: Medano Fire Wildfire

Released: 1:56 hrs. ago

The Medano fire is burning aggressively near the top of Mount Zwischen this evening. The burning has created a fully-formed column and is generating smoke that may be apparent as far as the Front Range. The intense fire is on the west side of the Sangre de Cristos, on National Park Land. It is in the very head of the Castle Creek and Horse Canyon drainages. The fire expansion poses no immediately increased threat to buildings, and is not moving the fire significantly closer to homes east of the fire.

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Medano Fire June 23, 2010, 11 a.m. Community meeting at 7 p.m. today at Cliff Lanes in Westcliffe

On the east side of the Sangres’ the Medano fire is burning on the San Isabel National Forest. Where the steep east-side slopes first begin to become more gentle, fireline supervisors scouted yesterday for safe, effective places to stop the Medano fire’s spread. Actions include preparing for crews to construct “indirect fireline,” which lets firefighters use existing natural barriers to prevent fire spread, such as streams and roads. Sometimes crews work in lighter fuels such as grass to build fireline to stop the fire. Even if the fire is miles away, crews sometimes prepare these firelines days or weeks ahead of time. If it becomes necessary to remove the fuel between the advancing fire and the constructed line, managers closely watch weather activity and the fire’s activity to determine the best time to conduct a burnout operation. Meanwhile, parts of the fire’s edge may stop themselves, either by running out of fuel or from precipitation. Whether or not these indirect firelines are ever used, they are valuable insurance. If winds allow for the safe operation of helicopters today, they may use buckets to drop water. The helecopter will focus on a 15-acre part of the fire, east of Zwischen Peak that was active yesterday afternoon. (Photo below) Also, crews continue to work directly along the fire’s northeast edge. They must either ensure that the fire’s edge is out, or dig fireline as necessary.

Great Sand Dunes
National Park and
Preserve is open.
Closures: Some trails
and roads near the fire
only. Details at
inciweb.org. or contact
fire information
Fire Size Today:
4891 acres up 125 acres
from yesterday
216 Firefighters: 7
crews, 7 engines and 2
helicopters.
Weather: Today may
end a week of red flag
warnings for dry wind.
Location: Sangre de
Cristos Mountains, 25
miles NE of Alamosa CO
and 15 miles W of
Westcliffe, CO
Fire is being managed on
both the San Isabel
National Forest and
Great Sand Dunes