The 416 Fire grew by more than 4,129 acres Thursday, bringing the total acreage burned to 41,617 acres – and more spread is expected Friday.
According to a morning update from the National Incident Management Organization, weather on Thursday created critical fire conditions, prompting a red flag warning, which caused the 416 Fire to ramp up in intensity.
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction issued another red flag warning for today. Fire officials say both the 416 and Burro fires are expected to spread because of the hot, dry and windy conditions.
According to fire officials, the 416 Fire is most active on its west flank in the Hermosa Creek Wilderness, specifically the Hermosa and Deer creek drainages. Air crews will continue to drop water on hot spots within the fire perimeter.
To the north, the fire also continues to spread. Crews will reduce potential for future fire ignitions in that area, and continue to clear and chip away brush piles along the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad track.
Burnout operations will continue on the southwestern portion of the fire in the No Buck Creek drainage. Fire operations will proceed to advance north along Forest Road 171 to where it meets with Sheep Head Basin.
Hand lines and mop-up procedures with aerial support will also continue in that area.
Friday could spell another bad day for fire spread.
An increase in fire activity is expected in the northwest perimeter of the Deer Creek drainage. Wind gusts could reach up to 30 mph. Smoke should be visible along the U.S. Highway 550 corridor.
“Fire weather remains near critical as high temperatures, low relative humidity, strong southwestern winds and a strong high pressure cell warrant the issuance of another Red Flag Warning,” the report said.
San Juan Basin Public Health issued an air quality health advisory Friday for areas around La Plata and Montezuma counties, even noting areas as far as Lake City may be affected.
The smoke will gradually decrease Friday morning. But as the 416 Fire becomes active again, smoke is expected to move toward the east and northeast of the fire.
Smoke is expected to settle overnight in the Animas Valley. Montezuma County should also expect air-quality impacts from the Burro Fire farther west.
To date, the fire, which started June 1, is 37 percent contained. About 360 people are working the fire. The cost so far is $25,600,000.
Staffers wit the National Incident Management Organization will be available today to talk to the public about the fire. They will be at Dunn Deal Resale Store, 3101 Main Ave., and south City Market, 6 Town Plaza, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Durango.