Little Sand Fire Morning Update 6/30/2012
On Friday, fire crews assigned to the Little Sand Fire responded to two fires caused by lightning from a thunderstorm Thursday evening. This and other storms in the area produced over 1,000 lightning strikes in a six county area in south central Colorado. A number of these strikes were located in a broad band along the east side of the Little Sand Fire. One of these strikes caused the Dudley Fire yesterday which grew quickly to 6 acres before hand crews, engines, and two water-dropping helicopters contained it. Had it not been suppressed quickly, this fire had the potential to become a much larger fire. A second one acre fire was also contained. Overall growth of the Little Sand Fire was minimal due to favorable weather conditions and the type of fuel the fire is currently burning in.
With warmer and dryer weather on Saturday, fire resources will finish mopping up the Dudley Fire and stand ready to suppress any new fires. Even without further lightning activity there is a high likelihood that additional new fires will be found which were caused by lightning from previous days. The goal of fire managers will be to catch small new fires before they can become large and impact the management strategy for the Little Sand Fire. Crews will continue to monitor for spot fires from the Little Sand Fire along the Piedra River and in the Weminuche Valley to keep this fire from advancing to the south or east, and protect structures.
As fire activity picks up, early morning air inversions will continue to trap smoke in low lying areas causing limited visibility. Motorists are advised to slow down, turn on headlights, and use caution when entering these smoky areas.
There are several areas and roads closed due to the Little Sand Fire. The notices and maps associated with these closures can be found on the San Juan National Forest web site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/sanjuan/alerts-notices. In the Vallecito area, the Pine Piedra Stock Driveway is closed at the end of Beaver Meadow, and the East Creek Trail (FT 535) is closed at the East Creek Trailhead on Forest Road 852. All other trails in the Vallecito area are open.
Recreation areas along the Piedra River corridor leading to the Williams Creek Reservoir and ending at the Palisades Horse Camp are open for visitors with the exception of Williams Creek Campground. Guides and outfitters are open for business and rerouting their trips as necessary to avoid the fire. Pagosa Springs and the Vallecito areas are open for business as usual.