West Fork (CO) Fire at 99,775 Acres

Residents of South Fork (CO) were allowed back in their homes Friday, but the West Fork fire complex still burns, reports The Denver Post.

The complex — a combination of the West Fork, Papoose and Windy Pass fires — has burned 95,775 acres on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass and is 2 percent contained.

Laura McConnell, a spokeswoman for the Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team, said the smoke is keeping some residents away despite the lifted evacuation orders.

While the evacuation order was lifted for most South Fork residents, those living west of Colorado 149 or the Rio Grande River, including Elk Creen and a portion of Masonic Park, continue to be under mandatory evacuation.

A crew of more than 1,400 is working to contain the fire. McConnell said with a fire in this type of terrain — the West Fork complex is burning through thick, rugged, spruce beetle-killed forests only accessible in many areas by goat paths — it’s hard to measure success by containment.

The canopy is so thick in some places that dropped retardant is just sitting on tree tops, McConnell said. But , she said, firefighters have been able to fend the flames off about 100 homes.

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