CONEJOS COUNTY — The Menkhaven Fire burning west of Antonito in the Rio Grande National Forest grows to 242 acres and is 50% contained, according to the US Forest Service.
The fire was first reported Saturday near Highway 17, about 7 miles northwest of Fox Creek, at about 20 acres in size at the time. Dry fuels and wind gusts around 30 mph did not help with containment attempts on the first night.
According to USFS, ground and air resources made significant progress on the fire late Saturday and Sunday. Ground crews will continue their work on Monday, with limited assistance from air tankers and helicopters due to winds in the 5060 mph range expected.
The fire is in a steep canyon with mixed conifer trees, brush, and aspen trees.
Evacuations impact homes north of the Highway, between Horca and Fox Creek. Those communities have not been asked to evacuate.
High fire danger persists in the area with forecast humidity levels on Sunday falling below 30%, plus wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph possible.
An air quality advisory was in effect for southern Conejos County including Fox Creek.
Public Health Recommendations: If smoke is thick or becomes thick in your neighborhood you may want to remain indoors. This is especially true for those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young, and the elderly. Consider limiting outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present. Consider relocating temporarily if smoke is present indoors and is making you ill. If visibility is less than 5 miles in smoke in your neighborhood, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy.
Outlook: Moderate to heavy smoke is expected to close vicinity to the Menkhaven wildfire located along Highway 17 in Conejos County approximately 6 miles northwest of Fox Creek. Overnight Saturday night smoke will begin to drain down the Conejos River, possibly bring periods of heavy smoke to Fox Creek early Sunday morning.
Even before a fire threatens your home, you'll want to have an emergency plan in place for you and your family. This should include ways to get in touch with everyone, a safe meeting place, and what actions to take if a disaster were to strike.
If a fire is burning nearby, pack your car ahead of time with necessary documents, medications, clothing, and other supplies. When flames threaten, act fast! Don't feel the need to be told to leave if you feel unsafe.
If told to evacuate, you must go now. Finally, return home only when officials say that it's safe to do so.
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- Avoid activities with open flames or sparks
- Avoid power equipment that creates sparks
- Obey burn bans
- Properly discard cigarettes
- Keep vehicles off of dry grasses
- Call 911 to report smoke or fire
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