07/01/2013 11:45 am ET

West Fork Complex Fire Burning In Southern Colorado Grows To More Than 96,000 Acres, 4 Percent Contained


The massive West Fork Complex Fire in southern Colorado continued to grow over the weekend fueled by a large amount of beetle-killed trees, burning 96,742 acres as of Sunday night. Firefighters also gained some ground on containment which doubled to 4 percent.

Although the fire has grown, there are no evacuations ordered, nearby U.S. Highway 160 over Wolf Creek Pass and Colo. Highway 149 both reopened over the weekend and the Red Cross evacuation shelter at Del Norte High School is expected to close on Monday, KDVR reports.

Firefighters have been focusing their efforts on protecting homes and people, not on containment. According to, authorities will "continue using the risk analysis process to mitigate risk and provide for the flexibility to apply the right resource to the right task at the right time" as well as "minimize suppression impacts to cultural, historical, and natural resources through consultation with resource advisors" and "provide point protection to defend structures and private land where appropriate."

"We're concentrating on protecting the highest values, and we're meeting that objective," said Bobby Kitchens, fire information officer with the Type 1 Incident Management Team said to The Denver Post. "Containment isn't a good measure on this fire."

More than 1,500 firefighters are battling the southwest Colorado fire which threatens the small town of South Fork, but has not yet reached it. More than 1,000 residents and summer tourists were evacuated from the town more than a week ago.

On Sunday, firefighters were aided by high humidity in the region and the National Weather Service predicts high humidity again Monday with a 30 percent chance of rain.

No structures are believed to have been lost to the erratic wildfire which began burning on June 5 in the San Juan National Forest and which continues to also burn in the Rio Grande National Forest. Additionally, no fatalities or injuries have been reported.

Three wildfires -- the West Fork, Windy Pass and Papoose fires -- were combined into the West Fork Complex fire on Sunday, June 16.

For a larger view of the many fires that have been burning in Colorado this year, Google has put together this "2013 Colorado Wildfire" map:

View Colorado Current Fires in a larger map

More photos of the devastating 2013 wildfires in Colorado:



Colorado Wildfires 2013