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Evacuations keep coming as Decker Fire moves north and east

The Decker Fire has led to more evacuations in Fremont County. This time, families and homeowners in the small communities of Swissvale and Wellsville were required to leave their homes behind midday Sunday.

According to fire crews, the Decker Fire increased to around 8,100 acres over the weekend, mostly because of the usual suspects: extremely dry vegetation, low humidity (3% humidity at times this weekend), and unpredictable winds.

KRDO was told around 45 people checked into the Red Cross Center in Salida, but more checked in at the location in Canon City.

“We could see the fire blow up Sunday morning. I mean, there was something definitely going on,” said Pam Risinger, a Swissvale resident. Twenty-four hours later, she’s just happy her family of 11 is OK.

“We value our lives big time in my family. Personal stuff doesn’t matter. Sure I don’t want my home to burn, I’ve put in a lot of money and invested a lot of time and work into that house. But if it does burn, then it does,” Risinger said.

Swissvale and Wellsville are located near the eastern line of the fire, an area where the fire has been troublesome for crews and continued to expand.

The west side of the fire is largely contained at this time, though crews still frequent the area. In total, the Decker Fire is 30% contained, thanks to the West and Southwest line of the fire.

“I would say two-thirds of our current resources and our current firefighters are engaged on the east side of the fire,” said Paul Delmerico with the Rocky Mountain Type 1 Task Team.

Over the weekend, hundreds of firefighters were forced to fall back to safer positions when the flames crossed their lines.

Red flag weather conditions plagued the area over the weekend and is expected to continue.

“Low relative humidities, winds higher than average, temperatures colder than average at night, higher than average temperatures during the day, it has made firefighting very difficult,” said Delmerico.

The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Task Team has been fighting the Decker Fire for nearly two weeks on Monday. To help push back, the crews have ordered a second air tanker out of California as well as Type 2 crews out of Oregon.

These Type 2 crews will serve as replacements to some of the firefighters that have been on the front lines the entire time.

Next on the chopping block could be the small town of Howard. There are around 75 homes in that area that are currently under pre-evacuation.

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