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Day 12: Colorado wildfire - High Park Fire near Fort Collins now 68,200 acres, 55 percent containment, 189 homes destroyed, 1 dead

6:51 PM, Jun 20, 2012   |    comments
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Incident commander Bill Hahnenberg says it could be months before it is fully controlled.

Wednesday, favorable weather conditions provided a window of opportunity and firefighters responded aggressively, Larimer County officials said.

The weather allowed crews to continue structure protection on both the interior of the fire and outside containment lines. 

The cost of fighting the fire has ballooned to an estimated $17.2 million and climbing.

More than 1,900 personnel are working on the fire with a 24-hour schedule using day and night shifts. As of Tuesday, nearly 1.3 million gallons of water have been dropped on the fire.

"[The fire was a] dragon tried to lure us into thinking it was sleeping," one Larimer County official said on Monday. "[Sunday,] it showed us it's not."

There are 132 engines on the scene and 17 helicopters, including five Type 1, three Type 2, seven Type 3, three Blackhawks and five heavy air tankers are battling the blaze.

Larimer County officials say 189 homes burned, making it the "most destructive fire" in Colorado history. Wednesday morning, Larimer County officials said they confirmed several properties on Tuesday that did not appear on the assessor rolls, which means there will be more homes confirmed burned soon. 

In comparison, the September 2010 Four Mile Canyon Fire burned more than 6,300 acres and destroyed a total of 169 homes. The 2002 Hayman Fire destroyed 133 homes and burned 138,000 acres of forest.

According to Larimer County officials, there are more than 700 residences in the High Park Fire perimeter.

The following list is of confirmed structures destroyed in the High Park Fire:

  • Soldier Canyon - 1
  • Missile Silo Road - 1
  • Cloudy Pass - 1
  • Picnic Rock - 1
  • Pine Acres - 5
  • Stratton Park - 21
  • Poudre Canyon - 17
  • Spring Valley - 3
  • Old Flowers - 1
  • Whale Rock - 40
  • Paradise Park - 12
  • Tip Top - 2
  • Redstone - 1
  • Rist Creek - 7
  • Davis Ranch - 51
  • Laurence Creek/Redstone - 0
  • Buckhorn - 8
  • Stove Prairie Road - 10
  • Rist Canyon - 8

Officials continue to assess other damaged or destroyed properties.

The Red Cross opened a second shelter Friday at the Cache La Poudre Middle School, located at 3515 West County 54G in Laporte.

Wednesday morning, fire officials issued an all clear to residents in the Soldier Canyon and Mill Canyon areas to return home. All of those residents are still asked to stay on alert in the event that the fire conditions worsen. Mandatory re-evacuation orders were issued for those areas when the fire first broke out. That included Lodgepole Drive and CR 23 west and south including Red Cedar Drive, and east to CR 23.

Wesnesday afternoon, fire officials issued an all clear to Glacier View area residents, south and east of McNay Hill, south of County Road 74E, which includes Hewlett Gulch Road, Deer Meadow Way, Gordon Creek Lane and connecting roadways in that area. About 89 notifications were sent to this particular area.

On Monday, fire officials issued a pre-evacuation order for the area of Hwy 14 from the Pingree Park Road west to approximately mile marker 90, just west of the Glen Echo Resort. Residents in this area need to be prepared to evacuate at a moments notice. Again, this is a pre-evacuation and all residents in this area need to be prepared to evacuate at a moments notice. This includes a road called Rustic Road, which runs south off of Hwy 14 (just west of Glen Echo).  This affects more than 95 homes. If residents need to evacuate, they will need to go west on Hwy 14 to Walden.

CR 74E remains open and a pre-evacuation alert remains in effect for the rest of Glacier View subdivision (including the area north of CR 74E), and the area south of CR 74E between Hewlett Gulch Road to the east and CR 68C to the west and Highway 14 to the south.

Other evacuations include:

  • Pingree Park Road, Hourglass and Comanche reservoirs, east on Buckhorn Road up to and including Pennock Pass, NE to junction with Stove Prairie and Hwy 14; West to junction with Highway 15 and Pingree Park Road
  • County Road 44H (Buckhorn Road) from County Road 27 to Pennock Pass and residents to the south approximately 3/4 - 1 mile
  • Areas south and west of Bellvue to include the Lory State Park area, the Redstone Canyon area and Buckhorn Road up to the Stove Prairie School
  • Poudre Canyon from MM111 to MM118 on Highway 14. This means Poudre Canyon from Stove Prairie to MM118 is under mandatory evacuations
  • The area between CR 27E and Stove Prairie Road and south through the entire Rist Canyon area including Davis Ranch Road, Whale Rock Road
  • South on County Road 44H 3 miles to just north of Stringtown Gulch Road, Paradise Park Road, Moose Horn Lane, Magic Lane and Spencer Mountain Road
  • Old Flowers Road from Stove Prairie Road to the 8000-block of Old Flowers Road
  • Stove Prairie Road north along County Road 27 to Highway 14, east along Highway 14 to approximately mile marker 111, southeast to Rist Canyon Fire Station 1, then back west to to include Wilderness Ridge Way, Rist Creek Road, Spring Valley Road and County Road 41 and all of the roads that run off of it
  • Otter Road off of CR 27
  • King's Canyon area and Boyd Gulch Road
  • Satanka Cove

Wednesday morning, Larimer County officials said they are hopeful that some residents will be able to start returning home soon. However, for those residents in the actual fire perimeter, one officials said it could be a long time before they are allowed back to their homes.

On Saturday morning, a firefighter on scene was air-lifted to a local hospital due to a pre-existing condition. The firefighter is stable and the condition was non-life threatening.

Due to the high-fire danger and the very dry conditions in Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper banned open burning and private use of fireworks throughout the state. The ban does not apply to campfires in fire pits, fireplaces, grills or controlled burns for agricultural purposes. Commercial, professional and municipal firework displays are allowed as long as they have the proper permits.

Some cities, however, have already gotten the go-ahead for their July 4th fireworks shows. A list can be found here.

View map of fire perimeter here

On June 11, authorities confirmed 62-year-old Linda Steadman died from the blaze. Search crews found Steadman's remains at her house on Old Flowers Road.

Authorities say Steadman received two notification calls. A deputy was on his way to personally warn her, but he was pushed back by flames.

Larimer County opened the High Park Fire Disaster Recovery Center on June 15 at Johnson Hall on the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins.

The DRC will provide a one-stop opportunity for victims of the High Park Fire to receive services and obtain information on county, state, and CSU services. 

Large animals and livestock can be taken to The Ranch also. Small domestic animals can be taken to the Larimer County Humane Society. If you want to help the evacuated animals, you can donate to the Larimer Humane Society online, www.larimerhumane.org.

All the wolves were evacuated from the Wolf Sanctuary after the fire broke out. If you would like to help, offers can be made on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nocowolfsanctuary.

Find out road closure information here

The High Park Fire was first spotted at around 6 a.m. on June 9. Crews had to hike through difficult terrain to first reach the area.

Lightning caused the High Park Fire.

Resources: 

High Park Fire interactive timeline: 

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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