The 416 Fire appears to be ramping back up, growing by nearly 600 acres in 24 hours, according to an estimate released Monday.
Rain tempered some aspects of the fire June 16 and 17 – causing a break from smoke-filled mornings – but large plumes of smoke have slowly returned, bringing a return to deteriorated air quality across the region. The San Juan Basin Health Department issued an air-quality health advisory Monday morning.
Last week in Southwest Colorado was defined by the same hot and dry weather conditions that ushered in extreme fire danger, which contributed to the outbreak of the 416 Fire on June 1 and the Burro Fire on June 8.
According to a fire update Monday morning from the incident command team, the 416 Fire grew by 584 acres from Sunday to Monday, driven by winds that reached up to 40 mph. The 416 Fire has burned a total of 34,962 acres, mostly on the San Juan National Forest.
“Fire managers wish residents to know that the fire is not out, and it will not be out until the arrival of significant moisture,” Joe Reinarz, incident commander, wrote in the morning update.
Fire weather conditions continue Monday, and will persist throughout the week with hot temperatures that could reach up to 94 degrees, low humidity values and high winds.
“Fuels continue to dry and will react to small environmental changes,” Reinarz wrote. “When weather conditions, susceptible fuel, and topographical conditions align, fire behavior has potential for rapid and intense increase.”
On Sunday, two columns of smoke were visible from Clear Creek and the Hope/Deer Creek areas. Winds from the west brought significant amounts of smoke down the Hermosa Creek drainage and to homes in Hermosa.
Fire managers expect the fire to grow in these areas on Monday, becoming most active after 1 p.m. Smoke will be visible and increase as the fire grows.
As the fire creeps toward Junction Creek Road, Reinarz said hot shot crews will assess the need for future burnout operations on the west side of the fire.
“The 416 Fire is an evolving fire,” he said. “Much patience is required during monitoring, operational planning, and tactical decisions in order to keep firefighters safe in terrain that is steep, rugged, and often inaccessible.”
San Juan Basin Health Department said heavy smoke should return and settle into Hermosa and possibly Durango on Tuesday morning. Real-time air-quality information can be found here: https://bit.ly/2yGsyt4