This was the third Saturday of burning for the High Park Fire, and in some ways it resembled the first. Back on June 9, the fire grew rapidly and moved aggressively through Rist Canyon and Poudre Park, driving firefighters and residents alike back before it.
Today, the spot fire that jumped Colorado Highway 14 near Sheep Mountain on Friday afternoon grew to 10,000 acres as it swept northeast through the 12th filing of Glacier View and Star View Drive. Structure protection crews activated sprinklers before being forced back by the fire’s intensity, and fire officials estimate that 10 structures may have burned so far. This despite the days crews had spent deploying sprinklers and removing fuels around houses to lessen the impact of the spread of the fire north of the Poudre River.
All available resources, including heavy air tankers and helicopters, began working in this area this morning, battling wind gusts of up to 35 mph and heat in excess of 100 degrees.
Some of the air resources have been diverted to Estes Park to help contain the Woodland Heights fire north of the Beaver Meadows entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, near the junction of Highways 36 and 66. At 6 p.m., it was reported to cover 20 acres, and local evacuations had been ordered. More than a half-dozen wildland fires are burning around Colorado tonight.
The High Park Fire was already the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, with 191 structures confirmed lost as of Friday. Today’s growth makes it second only to the Hayman Fire in 2002 in acreage consumed — 81,190 acres, or 126.8 square miles, nearly the size of Kansas City, Kan. Containment remains at 45 percent, and the most recent cost estimate for fighting it is $27.6 million.
The evacuation center at Cache La Poudre Middle School in LaPorte remains open, as does the center at The Ranch, I-25 and Crossroads Boulevard. The daily citizens’ briefing is held at The Ranch at 5 p.m. There were about 1,000 new evacuation orders sent yesterday for filings 1-8 in Glacier View as well as along Highway 14 and County Road 74E (Red Feather Lakes Road) Hewlett Gulch Road east to County Road 37. Bonner Peak subdivision is under pre-evacuation orders; the order includes County Road 74E from the junction of U.S. Highway 287, west to County Road 37, north to County Road 76H, east to Highway 287 and south to County Road 74E.
The Disaster Recovery Center will be open between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday, then from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday in Johnson Hall on the Colorado State University campus. The Donation Collection Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the old Mervyn’s space at the Foothills Mall in Fort Collins. For more information and a list of needed donations, and how those directly affected by the High Park Fire can receive assistance, go to helpcoloradonow.org.
A complete list of evacuations and the latest map of the fire can be found at the Larimer County Emergency Services website at www.larimer.org/emergency/. A complete list of road closures can be found on the Larimer County Sheriff’s website, larimersheriff.org/site-page/high-park-fire-road-information.