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1892 - 2013

â€˜â€Śthere is no night in Creede.

Volume 36, Number 26


Creede, Colo. 81130

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fire: 'number one priority in nation' BY JOHN MCEVOY

Community Notes for Mineral County

CREEDE—The high school gym was nearly as full as it was for graduation as anxious residents gathered to hear the latest on the Papoose Fire. Incident Manager Russ Long told the crowd the fire is the number one priority in the nation. “We have crews on the ground with chainsaws doing mitigation around

Business/employee assistance Friday DEL NORTE—For businesses and employees in Mineral and Rio Grande counties affected by the fires, there will be a business and employment disaster assistance center set up Friday, June 28 from 10 a.m. - 7p.m. at the Rio Grande County Annex Building (925 6th Street) in Del Norte. More details will be posted as available at www.

Courthouse closed due to wildfire CREEDE—The Mineral County Courthouse/Mineral Combined Court in Creede (1201 North Main) is closed until further notice due to the West Fork Fire. For those needing to do business with the court, it can be conducted at the Rio Grande Combined Court in Del Norte (925 6th Street), or by calling 719-657-3394.

Find up-to-date fire information online at

Thank You! On behalf of the San Luis Valley, we would like to thank all those who have played a part in managing, containing and fighting the West Fork Fire Complex. Thank you for your commitment to the safety of one another, your commitment to public service, your professional stewardship of the land and for working with our communities. We are honored to have you protecting our homes.

Valley Publishing

'JSTU"WFr.POUF7JTUB (719) 852-3531


structures cutting back vegetation,� said Long. “They are also putting in sprinkler systems around the structures so the water will spray in a donut shape around the homes without touching them if the fire gets close.� Long said Wagon Wheel Gap, 4UR Ranch and Humphreys are all still fine, but evacuated. Metro Please see CREEDE on Page 7A

A heavy air tanker drops retardant onto the Papoose Fire along Highway 149 near Spring Creek Pass. Photo by John McEvoy

West Fork Fire Complex tops 81,000 acres BY TONI STEFFENS-STEWARD AND JOHN MCEVOY SOUTH FORK —The West Fork Fire Complex continues to burn in forested areas surrounding South Fork and Creede on the western edge of the Valley. Smoke from the three fires, Papoose, West Fork and Windy Pass, has been visible throughout the Valley and beyond for more than one week. The West Fork Fire is still a threat to the town of South Fork; Papoose is inching closer to a number of structures located in Mineral County, and the Windy Pass is closest to the Wolf Creek Ski Area. As of Tuesday morning the fire had still not damaged any known structures and vehicles were allowed to travel along Highway 149 from South Fork to Creede on a metered basis. The cars are escorted by law enforcement personnel to ensure that drivers do not stop along the road or in any way interfere with fire traffic. This route may be interrupted at any time depending on fire conditions

Photos by John McEvoy

Fire burns closer to the Rio Oxbow Ranch house along Highway 149 and the Silver Thread Byway Please see BLAZE on Page 8A as firefighters try to keep the flames at bay.

Motions heard in Bessey trial BY SYLVIA LOBATO AND TERESA L. BENNS

Firefighters from the Pinos Creek Fire Department in Pagosa Springs who were pulled off the line, because of dangerous conditions wait for another assignment and enjoy refreshments in the smoke filled air along Highway 149 near mile marker 44.

DEL NORTE—Double homicide suspect Daniel M. Bessey has waived formal advisement, but was in court Tuesday afternoon to listen as attorneys argued motions in the case. Prosecutors have charged Bessey, 42, with 20 offenses, including two counts of first-degree murder, for the February 13, 2012, shooting deaths of John Salazar, 54, and Sarah Beasley, 29. The accused has yet to enter a formal plea. A series of tests for the 42-yearold suspect was the order of the afternoon, and 12th Judicial District Judge Martin Gonzales asked attorneys on both sides to give him five days’ advance notice if they intend to test the suspect.

The judge also asked that the proper court order be submitted in written form, with defense requests and the mechanics of any desired testing. For the first time, special prosecutor Jack Roth put the possibility of sexual assault onto the growing stack of accusations against the former Saguache resident, who has been in custody since January of this year. Judge Gonzales asked for transcripts to be prepared to see how Rio Grande County Judge Patrick Hayes ruled in the matters outlined in the motions. He expected preparation of the transcripts to take 15 to 20 days, adding that the documents could run as high as 100 pages each. Roth said, where previous custody hearings and a paternity test regarding Please see BESSEY on Page 4A

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Mineral County Miner

West Fork Complex Fire

Photos by John McEvoy Counterclockwise, beginning at left: A helicopter makes a water drop over the Papoose Fire at Rio Oxbow Ranch on Highway 149 mile marker 38. Smoke fills the air along the Silver Thread Scenic Byway. National Guard troops move between tents and the command post set up east of the high school football field in Del Norte.

A heavy air tanker flies up and away after dropping retardant onto the Papoose Fire along Highway 149 near Spring Creek Pass.

Fire burns closer to the Rio Oxbow Ranch house along Highway 149 and the Silver Thread Byway as firefighters try to keep the flames at bay. A helicopter continuously filled up with water to drop it on the flames around the house.

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