Update: 416 Fire hotshot teams sleep in forest; crews patrol fire lines overnight

The Daily Times Staff
The Entiat Hotshots were flown on to Falls Creek Ridge by helicopter Monday and are among the crews that constructed a fire line on the south perimeter of the 416 Fire.

FARMINGTON — Fire crews kept a wary eye on the smoldering 416 Fire Monday night. Six engines patrolled and monitored the fire perimeter and some hotshot teams who spent the day building fire lines slept in the forest.

“Fire behavior was limited today with minimal to no growth,” the Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Response Team reported Monday night. “As heat returns and fuels quickly dry out, some smoke will likely be visible as fuels smolder in already burned areas, and some fuels could kindle with flame.”

Firefighters said ridge tops are most likely to show increased activity.

It will take significant amounts of rain over time to completely cool the 416 Fire,” the Monday evening roundup stated.

INTERACTIVE MAP:La Plata County tracks the 416 Fire

There were 847 firefighters on the lines Monday, down from more than 1,000 over the weekend. The blaze is 35 percent contained and has charred 34,161 acres.

Firefighters reported that all hotshot crews were able to work on the Falls Creek Ridge Monday. Weather and road conditions last weekend kept some crews from their missions until things dried up a bit.

“Vale and Entiat Hotshots flew in by helicopter and worked on direct line,” the report said. 

A business owner's sign on Main Avenue in downtown Durango, Colorado, thanks firefighters who are battling the 416 and Burro fires.

The Flagstaff, Crane Valley, and Craig teams hiked in from the Falls Creek Road area, and five others from Helena, San Juan, Bitterroot, Wolf Creek, and Idaho Panhandle hiked in from Junction Creek Road.

“The hotshot crews made significant progress on building direct and indirect line,” the report said. “Several crews will spike out (set small camps and sleep) in the forest tonight.”

The report said firefighters continued Monday to remove fuel from around the structures at the end of Junction Creek Road. Other crews removed cut wood.

This afternoon's update recorded more progress.

"Seven hotshot crews on the Falls Creek Ridge continue constructing and improving direct and indirect fireline on the southwest flank of the fire," the 416 Fire team reported. "Crews are optimistic that the line will be complete or nearly complete by the end of today's shift. There are no significant changes in fire behavior at this time."

U.S. Highway 550 remained open without a law enforcement escort. 

Beginning at 11 a.m. today, evacuated residents in the Falls Creek Ranch and High Meadows subdivisions got the word they could go home. That area remains under pre-evacuation status, so residents must keep essentials ready in case a new evacuation is ordered.

Call the La Plata County Emergency Operations Center at 970-385-8700 for evacuation information or go to www.co.laplata.co.us.