Little Sand Fire Daily Update – June 24, 2012 8:00 AM – San Juan National Forest
Weather conditions today, include a Red Flag Warning with the possibility of strong erratic winds, which could a significant challenge to fire fighters. According to the National Weather Service the fire area is in one of the best places to receive thunderstorm activity. The storms are likely to produce dry lightning on their periphery with strong erratic winds. Thunder storm activity and the Red Flag Warning are expected to begin about noon and continue to midnight. A special emphasis will be placed on fire fighter safety in regards to the threat of lightning.
The Little Sand Fire increased from 18,439 to 19,566 (a gain of 1,127 acres) on Saturday. Most fire activity yesterday could be characterized as slow backing fire with small amounts of single and multiple tree torching. The fire continued to advance slowly to the north and west in Sand Creek, and to the southwest in the vicinity of Davis Creek and the Piedra River. Fire has reached the Piedra River and heavy helicopters were used yesterday to cool down the fire to reduce the chance of the fire spreading to the south of the Piedra drainage. The fire continued to advance to the east backing slowly down towards the Weminuche Valley. The western edge of the fire remains east of Slide Mountain and approximately 13 miles from Vallecito Reservoir.
Night time air inversions are creating heavy smoke impacts on areas adjacent to and down slope from the fire. Inversions will last until mid-morning. Wind patterns today will be erratic with smoke movement in direction of wind flow. Links are provided on the Inciweb site to smoke monitors located at the Sportsmans Campground area and Piedra River, the State air quality site, and smoke health information.
Firefighter objectives for today will focus on confining the fire to the west edge of the Weminuche Valley so residents can return there to resume normal activity as soon as possible. Structure defense actions will be taken when appropriate. With the expected wind conditions today, a major concern will be holding the fire north of the Piedra River. Fire fighters will use heavy helicopters to help control the fire along the Piedra River to prevent the fire spotting to the south of the river. A crew will also continue to implement structural defense measures at the Granite Peak Guard Station. This operation is well in advance of the fire which is still about 13 miles south of the station.
Poison Park Road (FR 644) remains closed to non-emergency traffic until further notice. The Piedra River Road (FR 631) to Poma Ranch is closed at the “Y”. A closure has been placed on an area to the north of the junction of the Piedra River and Coldwater Creek. The closure includes adjacent trails. Details on the closure may be found on the fire’s Inciweb site. There are no closures in the Vallecittos area.
Day-use recreation areas near Williams Lake, and other Forest Service campgrounds in the area, remain open to the public. Private campgrounds and businesses in the Piedra area are also open. Guides and outfitters who normally work in the area around the fire have rerouted trips and are still in operation. Pagosa Springs and the Vallecito area are open for business as usual.
Information on the Little Sand Fire may be obtained by calling (970) 444-2201 or from the following web sites:
About Me: http://about.me/little sand cofire
Archuleta County: http://www.acemergency.org/
Fire stats at a glance:
Start Date: May 13th, 2012
Hand crews: 2
Structures Destroyed: 0
Cooperating Agencies: Hinsdale County, Archuleta County, USFS, CSFS
Aviation: 4 Helicopters
Cost to Date: $5,014 Million