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Decker Fire grows beyond 8,000 acres, prompting new evacuations

Posted at 11:38 AM, Oct 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 09:32:46-04

The Decker Fire in south-central Colorado has grown beyond 8,000 acres, as of Sunday evening.

The fire, which was sparked by a lightning strike on Sept. 8, is burning in Saguache, Chaffee and Fremont Counties a few miles south of Salida and west of Wellsville, Swissvale and Howard. It reached 8,464 acres and is 30% contained as of 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Multiple evacuations and pre-evacuation plans are in place in several communities northeast and southeast of the fire.

On Sunday afternoon, residents of Bear Creek, Silver Heels Drive and the two residents on a private drive just west of Silver Heels Drive were evacuated, according to the Chaffee County Sheriff's Office. All other residents from County Road 108 east to just west of Silverheels Drive remained on pre-evacuation notice.

On Monday morning, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office issued a mandatory evacuation for Swissvale and Wellsville. Howard remains on pre-evacuation notice.

To view an interactive map of the fire and an evacuation map, click here.

Decker Fire as of morning of Oct. 14, 2019

The Chaffee County Sheriff's Office said an evacuation resource center was set up for evacuees in both Chaffee and Fremont Counties. The center is located in the United Methodist Church in Salida, which is located at 228 E. 4th Street. Anybody who was evacuated is asked to come to the church to check in and gather more information.

Rocky Mountain Fire Operations Section Chief Mike Tombolato said the fire jumped a containment line on the west side and a spot fire started burning dry fuels in an area it had previously burned.

“Because the aspen are actually shedding their leaves right now, they’re actually adding fuel back to the ground,” Tombolato said in a video posted to the Decker Fire Facebook page. “And that added fuel built up enough heat that it was actually able to throw some fire over our control line and created a spot fire that we had to deal with.”

Authorities feel it is much more contained now, he said.

There was also increased fire activity on the north side of the fire on Sunday. Fire escaped the lines on the east side as well, he said.

“Most of you in the area did see the increase of fire activity yesterday. Our crews did a really good job minimizing the impacts from that,” Tombolato said.

A public meeting is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. at the Howard Volunteer Fire Department, located at 8274 US-50 in Howard.

For up-to-date information on this fire, call 719-626-1095 or visit the InciWeb page for the fire here.