Strong winds increase Sand Creek Fire acreage 

Current Situation: The Sand Creek Fire has grown to 88 acres. An infrared flight on Monday mapped the increased acreage that occurred on Sunday. The fire’s growth was primarily on the northwest corner, as the fire crept uphill through heavy fuels. 

On Monday, gusty winds over the fire kept the fire creeping through heavy fuels, but little smoke was produced. The fire remains in the Little Sand Fire scar moving through heavy dead and downed fuels. On Tuesday, firefighters will utilize Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to monitor the fire’s progression and validate safe possibilities if directly engaging the fire becomes an option. 

Tuesday will be Team Black’s last day on the Sand Creek Fire. The fire will be turned back to the local unit and a Type 4 team, led by Incident Commander Jon Freeman from the Columbine Ranger District, will take command of the fire on Tuesday evening at 10 p.m. 

Weather & Fuel Conditions: A dry cold front brings cooler temperatures and partly cloudy skies on Tuesday. As the front passes through the area, winds are expected to gust 25-28 mph. Temperatures will range in the low 70s. A Fire Weather Warning and a Red Flag Warning have been issued for the area until 8 pm. 

Evacuations and Closures: A forest closure remains in effect around the fire area. The full text and a map of the closure can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/6790/. The Piedra River Trail (596), Little Sand Creek Trail (591), Lower Weminuche Trail (595), Coldwater Trail (597), and Coldwater Stock Trail (598) are all presently open. The Sand Creek Trail (593) and North Ridge Trail (594) are the only trails that are closed at this time. Mosca Road, NFSR 631 is also closed within the fire area. NFSR 631 east of the fire area is restricted to local traffic only. Please see today’s map for the extent of the Mosca Road closures and restrictions. 

Smoke Outlook: Air quality jumped into the Moderate category for a couple of hours around midnight Monday-Tuesday and returned to Good within an hour. Continued increased afternoon fire activity can be expected to generate smoke that will impact air quality. Smoke from fires in Arizona, Utah, and now Nevada continues to be pushed into western/southwestern Colorado, and may be noticed more as southwest winds push it through the area at higher elevations. 

Today’s smoke outlook will be the last produced for the Sand Creek Fire. Questions and concerns regarding air quality and smoke may be directed to the Pagosa Ranger District, at 970-264-2268, or email at PagosaRD@usda.gov. 

Fire Restrictions: Fire danger across the region is rated as extreme. Fire restrictions are in place on the San Juan National Forest. Archuleta County and Hinsdale County have both enacted Stage 1 Fire Restrictions. 

Temporary Flight Restrictions: A Temporary Flight Restriction is in place over the Sand Creek Fire. Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Every time a drone is spotted near the fire all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of the area. For more information, visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org. 

 For More Information:                                                                                        

 InciWeb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6790 

Facebook: facebook.com/2020SandCreekFire 

Twitter: twitter.com/sanjuannf 

Location: Approximately 20 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs, Colo. 

Sand Creek Fire Statistics: 

Size:  88 acres 

 Containment:  0% 

 Total Personnel:  163 

 Cause: Lightning 

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