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Decker Fire in Colorado grows by 800 acres, activating contingency plans

by James Burky, Denver Post |

The Decker Fire near Salida, Colo., grew 800 acres overnight, causing federal fire managers to reassess their plan of attack, officials said Monday.

Approximately 750 firefighters were pulled from suppression efforts Sunday. Low humidity and high winds negated the benefits of freezing temperatures Sunday, which allowed the fire to grow from 7,326 acres to 8,118, according to the fire’s InciWeb page. The unfavorable conditions led to a red flag warning being issued.

Mike Tombolato, operations section chief with Rocky Mountain Fire, briefed the media Monday on efforts to counter the Decker Fire’s erratic growth.

The lightning-sparked fire, which has been burning for more than a month and is at 30 percent containment, jumped suppression lines near Methodist Mountain and created a spot fire that has “been put into check” but is still being tended to on Monday, Tombolato said. He attributed the new burn to leaves falling from Aspen trees, providing new fuel for flames.

The northern area of the fire near Romeo, Colo., has seen increased activity as well, but Tombolato said that nothing yet threatens the northern suppression line.

Crews also deployed a new division of firefighters, Division Y, southeast of the fire to scout the area for suppression lines as a contingency plan.