Governor declares Hewlett Fire disaster emergency

Firefighting resources continue to arrive to help battle the Hewlett Fire north of the Poudre Canyon, which has been declared a disaster emergency. As of Friday at 10 a.m., 522 personnel were on the scene of the 7,673-acre blaze that is still only 5 percent contained.

Gov. John Hickenlooper this morning declared a disaster emergency for the Hewlett Fire. The declaration makes available $3 million in the state’s Disaster Emergency Fund to help pay for fire suppression efforts.

Hickenlooper this week also activated Colorado National Guard resources to assist the U.S. Forest Service in fighting the fire. The Forest Service is using the National Guard Armory in Fort Collins as an incident command post and base camp for response to the fire.

Colorado Highway 14 remains closed from Ted’s Place at U.S. Highway 287 to Stove Prairie Road, and the mandatory evacuation of homes along Highway 14 between mile markers 113 and 115 remains in place.

In addition to firefighters and emergency service personnel, five helicopters are now assigned to the fire, as well as a heavy air tanker and a single-engine air tanker. Aircraft have been drawing water from the Milton Seaman Reservoir, which supplies drinking water for the city of Greeley.

The southeast edge of the fire has reached the reservoir. Greeley’s Water and Sewer department is monitoring the amount of ash and sediment runoff into the Poudre River, even though Seaman has not been in use because of maintenance for several months.

“We have planned for situations like this,” said Jon Monson, director of Water and Sewer for Greeley. “Because we have multiple water sources, we have alternatives when one or more sources are threatened.”

He expects that mitigation operations will be required once the fire is out, as were performed after the much-smaller Picnic Rock Fire in 2004.

If Greeley residents notice any change in the smell or appearance of their tap water, they are urged to call the City of Greeley Water Department at 970-350-9811.

An American Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at Cache la Poudre Middle School in LaPorte, and Larimer County has posted a link to the United Way’s Hewlett Fire Relief and Recovery Guide on its emergency information page at www.larimer.org/emergency/emergency_detail.cfm?nam_id=82.

The county also posts fire updates on the emergency information phone line at 970-498-5500, which is staffed by county information officers but also delivers recorded information 24 hours a day. The Forest Service emergency information line is 970-498-1030.

Local businesses are also stepping up to help. Bob’s Coffee in LaPorte has sent over coffee for the volunteers and evacuees at the middle school. Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar, 123 N. College Ave. in Fort Collins, is offering a meal of jambalaya or shrimp pasta to residents evacuated from the Hewlett Fire. Jax is also offering a complimentary pint of locally brewed Pateros Creek beer to active firefighters and emergency service workers.

“Community is extremely important to us and all we hope is that we can make a difference, in whatever capacity we can,” the restaurant’s management posted on Facebook. “We love this town and are so humbled by how warm and welcoming the people of Fort Collins have been since we opened. We are honored to give back to those that have given to us.”

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