SOUTH FORK, Colo. - All three fires in the West Fork Complex in Southern Colorado continue to grow in size.
"Fire activity increased on the northwest flank of the fire [Papoose Fire] last night about shift change," according to fire officials on Wednesday. "The fire has burned down into Crooked Creek, and firefighters from both shifts worked diligently to protect structures as the fire pushed into the area."
The West Fork Complex is comprised of the Papoose Fire, the West Fork Fire and the Windy Pass Fire -- three fires burning near highways 149 and 160 between Creede, South Fork and the Wolf Creek Ski Area.
On Wednesday, officials announced the West Fork Fire had grown to 54,714 acres, the Papoose Fire grew to 25,236 acres and the Windy Pass Fire grew slightly to 1,381 acres. The three fires have burned a total of 81,331 acres. There is no containment.
More than 1,300 fire personnel are assigned to the fire in addition to 14 helicopters.
-- West Fork Fire --
Firefighters continue to work on structure protection and fortifying a line about the town of South Fork, officials said.
"Structure protection sprinklers are installed at Bruce Spruce Resort and firefighters will be evaluating and implementing structure protection needs for additional structures on West Fork Road today," according to a statement from the Incident Management team. "Portions of the sprinkler system at Borns Lake were run yesterday to increase humidity and fuel moisture around the Borns Lake structures."
Crews are also doing structure protection near Lake Humpreys and Metroz Lake.
Firefighters are working to keep the fire on the north side of Highway 160. They are also working to improve the bulldozer-created fire line 1.5 miles from South Fork, near Sentinel Peak.
-- Creede & The Papoose Fire --
Crews on the Papoose Fire continue to provide structure protection in the Crooked Creek area and along on both sides of Highway 149.
Officials said there is no known structure loss from the fire's run on Tuesday.
Creede is currently not under an evacuation order.
-- Windy Pass Fire --
The Windy Pass Fire grew by 26 acres on Tuesday.
"With the decrease in wind intensity, the immediate threat to Wolf Pass Ski Area has diminished," Incident Managers said.
Fire managers said they are looking at possibly putting in a line with retardant to check the fire spread to the east today or tomorrow.
-- Evacuations --
The communities of South Fork and Wagon Wheel remain evacuated. Highway 149 remains closed although the public has been allowed to drive on the highway between South Fork and Creede, but only once an hour and by following a pilot car. Highway 160 remains closed to traffic from West Fork Road on the west end and west of the city limits of South Fork on the east end.
The West Fork Complex Fires have been burning since June 5. The cause of the fire is lightning, according to the fire information website, Inciweb.org.
About 50 miles of the Colorado Trail through the Rio Grande National Forest and about 150 miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail on both the Rio Grande and San Juan national forests are closed to public access as a result of the fires.