While Officials Work To Keep The Decker Fire Away From Salida And Other Towns, They Plan To Let It Burn In The Wilderness Until It Snows

Decker Fire Facebook Page
The Decker Fire on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.

Officials say the Decker Fire outside of Salida could burn until it snows.

Merle Baranczyk, editor of The Mountain Mail newspaper in Salida, told Colorado Matters that crews are focused on protecting the town instead of completely trying to extinguish the fire. 

Officials have told Baranczyk they're hoping nature takes care of it. The Incident Information System says the fire has grown to 3,746 acres and estimates the containment date at Dec. 20.

“Their comment was 'When the snow flies.' I think the fire around town, that fire will be attacked aggressively, and it is being attacked right now, actually,” he said. 

The fire was ignited by lightning on Sept. 8 and has burned almost 4,000 acres. It’s about 5 percent contained. 

A Type 1 Incident Management Team has taken command of the Decker Fire.

Incident Commander Mark Giacoletto confirmed during a media briefing on Thursday that at least one structure has been destroyed by the fire.

"We are going to deal with the fire where it’s a threat to people and property and the infrastructure," Giacoletto said.

On Wednesday, the Chaffee County Sheriff’s office issued a mandatory evacuation order for Methodist Mountain Estates, Boot Hill, Pinon Ridge Estate, Fawn Ridge Estates and Mountain Vista Village. 

There are also multiple road closures around the Decker Fire area in Chaffee, Freemont and Saguache counties. 

The National Weather Service is reporting that smoke from the fire will be pushed into South Park and the mountains, and into the Front Range. Health warnings for people sensitive to poor air quality are in effect.

NWS Boulder
A National Weather Service projection shows where and how smoke from the Decker Fire will spread from the morning of Thursday, Oct. 3, into the early morning of Friday, Oct. 4.

The weather service also issued a red flag fire warning for the high mountain valleys — including where the Decker Fire is burning — and much of Summit County on Thursday. 

Elsewhere in the state, a fire has broken out near Dolores, according to the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center. And firefighters are responding to a small fire near Crater Lake in the Maroon Bells and Snowmass Wilderness, according to a tweet from the White River National Forest.