COLORADO SPRINGS — A plume of smoke visible in the Pikes Peak Region this week is originating from the Decker Fire burning south of Salida. The fire doubled in size from Monday into Wednesday to a total of 3,746 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The Decker Fire has been burning since September 8 in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. It started from a lightning strike and moved close to homes this week. The fire is only 5% contained as of Wednesday afternoon with around 200 firefighters battling the blaze.
Decker Fire on Wednesday at 3,746 acres:
Decker Fire on Monday at 1,591 acres:
Warm and windy weather gave the fire the fuel it needed to spread rapidly this week. The plume from the Decker Fire could also be clearly seen on visible satellite as Chief Meteorologist Matt Meister pointed out on Monday. Dry and breezy conditions over the last few days haven’t provided any humidity to help settle the fire down. That’s why the fire remained active overnight Tuesday into Wednesday.
Salida was extremely gusty on Monday and Tuesday, with 20mph winds and occasional gusts up to 40mph. Winds along with very dry air combined to help the fire spike in size. Humidity levels dropped down to 5% in Salida Tuesday afternoon while winds sped up.
These environmental conditions were favorable for wind-driven smoke to cause air quality advisories. An air quality advisory has been extended until 9AM on Thursday for southeast Chaffee County and northwest Fremont County due to increased smoke coming from the fire.
Strong winds pushing the fire closer to populated areas also prompted evacuations on Wednesday.
According to the National Weather Service, parts of the state will continue facing critical fire danger throughout the week. The NWS lists the high mountains and valleys in northcentral and northeastern Colorado as areas that could be vulnerable to fire weather this week.
Officials say the Decker Fire is helping remove high-risk fuels, such as beetle-kill and blowdown, from the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. They say getting rid of these fuels will help lower the risk for future wildfires.
Continue following updates about the Decker Fire on FOX21NEWS.COM.