416 Fire update: Price of fighting blaze nears $29 million

The Daily Times staff
As fire behavior slows, helibase personnel completed a mock medical drill July 4 that incorporated the entire base, medical personnel and new medical protocols.

FARMINGTON — Rain is in the forecast, and 416 Fire crews are packing up some extra equipment to send to other forest fires. The blaze that began June 1 reached 45 percent containment today with 54,129 acres charred and fire growth of 861 acres.

The fire has cost $28.9 million and has 432 personnel working to fight the fire and repair areas damaged during firefighting efforts and at risk for erosion.

“Minimal fire behavior is expected today with smoldering the dominant source of smoke,” the fire team reported.

While the fire is lying low, there’s no break from the smoke for some areas.

Fire burns in the west side of the 416 Fire in this screen captue from a video posted Monday afternoon on the 416 Fire Facebook page.

Smoke as far south as Aztec

“Communities along the Animas River valley from Hermosa to Aztec will continue to see smoke impacts overnight,” the fire team warned. “As we have seen over the last week, there will be no reprieve today or tomorrow from dense morning smoke in areas along the Animas River valley including Hermosa, Durango and Bondad.”
Don’t plan on going west to get cleaner air.

“Areas west of the fire including Cortez and Dolores may see light smoke tonight,” they said. “Areas north and east of the fire should enjoy overall good air quality.”

Fire growth has slowed, and rains plus increasing humidity are expected to further help firefighters through this weekend.

Prospects for containment improve

Fire manager NIMO Operations Section Chief Alex Robertson was upbeat today about prospects for more progress and better air quality.

“It should get better every day now as humidity comes up,” he wrote on Facebook. “Rain is expected Friday and through the weekend which will dampen fire activity and therefore, smoke.”

PAST 416 FIRE COVERAGE:Weather expected to turn in favor of firefighters

Robertson said it was important to get pumps and other equipment off the terrain by Purgatory Mountain Resort before rains make the roads slippery.

“We’ve pulled a lot of appliances, equipment out of the Purgatory area in anticipation of improving weather,” Robertson said.

The fire team’s morning briefing detailed efforts to get equipment packed off and shipped where it is needed.

Firefighters battling the 416 Fire north of Durango, Colorado, open their sack lunches Tuesday to discover thank you cards written by local residents.

Fire crews downsize

“Incident Commander Joe Reinarz says he is sufficiently comfortable with the progress that has been made in building and holding line, coupled with the expected rain, that downsizing is the right thing to do,” the report said. “Firefighters, helicopters and other equipment are being released from the 416 fire to be re-mobilized to other higher priority fires in the region where life and property are more directly threatened.”

The fire’s western perimeter is still burning, but firefighters say terrain and elevation are working in their favor to slow the blaze.

PAST 416 FIRE COVERAGE:Firefighters hope for rain; Durango-area fire grows 

“There is a segment of fireline near Olga Little Mountain on the southwest perimeter that still requires monitoring while it burns out,” the Thursday morning report stated. “When it cools and no longer represents a risk of spread, fire officials will have reached 100 percent of containment objectives.”

Bulldozers that are designed to repair land affected by wildfires and firefighting efforts were brought in today.