June 29, 2012 7:30 p.m.
MANCOS, Colo. - Today, around 1 p.m., fire managers initiated the planned burnout operations on the Weber Fire. The goal was to burn the fuels between the indirect containment lines and the fire perimeter on the north edge safely. This tactic is being used with the expectation of keeping the fire from making a run and crossing the containment line and Highway 160.
Fire managers used a helicopter ignition method which started small fires on the ground. The ignition started up the slope, near where the existing fire has been burning for the last several days. Experienced fire personnel also ignited portions of the burnout by hand where the fire had to be applied more carefully near structures. Operations Section Chief Dick Terry stated, "We're taking it slow to make sure everything goes right." This ground ignition is expected to continue until midnight or later.
As soon as most of the fuels along a section of the containment line have been consumed, firefighters will start the mop-up operations in that area.
These burnout operations are generating large amounts of smoke, visible from Highway 160 and local communities. During the day, the smoke has been rising, then blowing to the east. After dark, down-slope winds are likely to develop, carrying more of the smoke into the valleys. Mancos, Durango, and other low-lying areas are likely to be impacted by the smoke. An inversion with substantial amounts of smoke is likely to develop overnight. Persons with asthma or other breathing difficulties are advised to stay indoors or temporarily leave the area until smoke diminishes.
Today on the south end of the fire, two crews were flown onto the tops of the bluffs where the fire is burning. to see whether they could safely establish a direct containment line. Higher humidity the last few days and sparse fuels on the rocky slopes greatly reduced the fire activity in these areas. One crew is expected to be flown into this area tomorrow to complete the containment line on this bluff area. Fire managers are hoping that these resources can complete direct containment lines on the south end of the fire tomorrow, eliminating the need to do a large burnout there.
For road closures and evacuation information, please contact the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office at (970) 564-4999 or (970) 564-4996.
Information about this and other fires can be found at www.inciweb.org. Follow us on Twitter @weberfireinfo.
Contact: Beth Hermanson, Public Information Officer
Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C