Rain, Hail, and Hard Work Propel Containment
While much of the fire area received only 0.12 inches of rain Thursday night, the moisture reduced Friday’s fire behavior and gave crews a window of opportunity to sprint ahead with mopping up isolated heat signatures still scattered across the lower slopes of East Spanish Peak. Crews will be taking advantage of cooler temperatures expected today.
The moisture also created muddy slopes and hazardous conditions that require extra caution as firefighters work around the fire perimeter. The additional moisture in the air will generate more atmospheric instability, and the potential for stronger afternoon thunderstorms.
The fire is now 85 percent contained and covers 13,521 acres. While rain and overnight humidity recovery temporarily (hours) diminishes the flammability of fine fuels (grasses and very small branches), larger branches and trees remain just as dry as they were before the rain. A few short hours of sunlight and wind puts us back to the same level of explosively dry fuels. With that in mind, the fire will not reach 100 percent containment until sufficient interior mop-up is complete.
Crews are focusing on rehabilitating firelines to prevent erosion and to speed the return of plants and wildlife. Other activities today will include hazard tree removal along public roads and trails. Once the roads and trails are opened, we ask that the public use care while recreating in these areas. While we are actively attempting to mitigate all hazards, the public is encouraged to do their part and enter these areas with caution just like the firefighters, “look up, look down, look all around”.
Ten handcrews, four helicopters, 28 engines, two dozers, and 15 water tenders remain on this incident. As the containment on the fire grows, resources are slowly being released to support other incidents.
Roads that access the fire perimeter remain closed to safeguard both the public and firefighters. Cordova Pass Road is now open. However, all trailheads and trails (West Peak, Apishipa, and Shafer Trails) that lead into the Spanish Peaks Wilderness Area remain closed for public safety. Caution is encouraged as there will be additional traffic with some of the National Guard troops heading home today.
As firefighters move on to their next assignment, they have left saying many thanks for the donations and community support, “it has been amazing!”