Whipped by gusty and erratic winds, the High Park fire grew to 56,480 acres Sunday, burning an additional 1,000 acres in an unburned area on the southeast side in the Laurence Creek Lane and Redstone area. The Larimer County Sheriff’s Department reported fire activity in other previously unburned areas as well.
The 1,748 personnel, 113 engines, 17 helicopters working the fire have achieved 45 percent containment. However, both light and heavy helicopters were grounded for part of the day by high winds. When the wind shifted to the northwest in the early afternoon, it blew thick smoke into Fort Collins and as far south as Windsor. By evening the wind had swung to the southwest, but the lingering haze created eerie sunsets across Northern Colorado.
The weather forecast for the coming week offers more of the same: low relative humidity (3 percent to 4 percent) and northwest winds with possible gusts of 30 to 50 miles an hour on Monday, with extreme fire weather also on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday.
As some residents have been allowed to return to their homes, 181 have been told by the sheriff’s office that they have no homes to return to. No new notifications of damaged or destroyed homes were made on Sunday, but additional evacuations were ordered for Soldier and Mill canyons as well as the Hewlett Gulch subdivision. Glacier View Meadows filings 9-12 were evacuated on Saturday and the rest of the filings remain on pre-evacuation alert. Residents should be ready to lead at a moment’s notice, especially with high winds.
Residents who live in areas where property damage has been confirmed can call 970-619-4086 to find out the status of their home. This phone line is staffed from 8 a.m. from 5 p.m. and messages can be left after hours.
Additional evacuation areas are still being evaluated to determine when residents may re-enter. Factors being considered before lifting an evacuation include utility repair, emergency traffic in the area and road hazards such as falling rock and trees in the roadway.
Two evacuation centers are now open — one at The Ranch, the Larimer County fairgrounds complex at I-25 and Crossroads Boulevard in Loveland, and one at Cache La Poudre Middle School in LaPorte. In addition to food and shelter and other services provided by the Red Cross and Salvation Army, laundry facilities for evacuees at The Ranch, where the daily citizens’ briefings are held at 3 p.m. The City of Fort Collins recreation facilities at EPIC and Northside Atzlan Center and the Miramont Lifestyle Fitness Centers are available to evacuees free of charge with proof of address.
The Larimer County Disaster Recovery Center in Johnson Hall on the Colorado State University campus is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on the services available, go to the Virtual Courthouse website at www.larimer.org.
Information is also available at the Larimer County Emergency Information line at 970-498-5500, on Twitter @larimersheriff, or on Inciweb at www.inciweb.org/incident/2904/. The Forest Service’s Inciweb site also shows the status of the two other wildfires burning and growing in the state: the Little Sand Fire near Pagosa Springs and the Springer Fire near Eleven Mile Reservoir in Park County.