Evacuations Ordered As Decker Fire Approaches 4,000 Acres

October 2, 2019
The Decker Fire burns near Salida, Colo.The Decker Fire burns near Salida, Colo.Chaffee County Fire Department / Facebook
The Decker Fire burns near Salida, Colo.

The Decker Wildfire grew from 2,200 acres to more than 3,700 acres overnight on Tuesday. It’s only 5 percent contained. 

Some evacuations and road closures are ongoing south of Salida as the fire is threatening homes in Chaffee County.

Officials said residents in the Methodist Mountain Estates, Boot Hill, Vista Village Trailer Park, Pinon Ridge Estate, and the Fawn Ridge Estates are under mandatory evacuation.. 

The Red Cross opened a shelter at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds in Salida for people who are displaced by evacuations. 

Because of smoke from the fire, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has extended an air quality advisory to Thursday morning. 

The health department warns that people who are sensitive to smoke — children, older adults, and people with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, heart disease or lung disease — should take extra precaution. 

Scott Landes, a supervisor and air quality meteorologist at the health department,  said people should stay inside their homes in the area. 

“If you are unable to see a landmark about 5 miles away from you, that means the air is likely unhealthy,” Landes said. 

People who are using air conditioners in their homes are cautioned not to have it draw in air from outside and to instead recirculate the air that is already inside. 

“If you do bring that outside air into your home, the smoke levels in your home can actually be worse than what’s outside,” Landes said. 

Landes also said that if people can access an air filtration system, dedicate one room of the house to be a "clean room" and spend the majority of time there.  

National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Mozley said the fire danger will die down on Thursday. 

“The humidity values are going to start to come up and the winds are going to relax a little bit so we won’t have the dangerous fire conditions [but] that doesn’t mean the fire can’t grow,” Mozley said. 

However, Landes said relief may be temporary. 

“Unfortunately, going into Friday and Saturday the winds are going to start picking up,” Landes said. “It’s going to start drying up again as well. So, even though we may see a decrease in fire activity on Thursday, it may be short lived.” 

The Decker fire was ignited by lightning Sept. 8.

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