High Park Fire now largest in Larimer County history

In the 48 hours since it was first reported, the High Park Fire has burned an estimated 36,930 acres — 57 square miles — and continues to grow. The largest fire in Larimer County history has been driven by erratic high winds that have pushed the plume of smoke — visible on weather radar — toward Cheyenne and Nebraska.

On Monday morning, management of the fire was upgraded to a Type 1 incident, and the number of personnel on the scene increased to 400. The cause is presumed to be a lightning strike in an area of dry brush and beetle-killed pine trees.

The blaze has damaged or destroyed 18 structures and resulted in the evacuation of thousands of Larimer County residents. The latest evacuation area is south and west of Horsetooth Reservoir inlet south of County Road 38E.

County Road 38E is closed at County Road 23 near the Spring Canyon Dam, from Masonville to Harmony Road at the junction of Taft Hill Road. There is no boating or camping allowed at Horsetooth Reservoir, and Larimer County has closed Horseooth Mountain and Eagle’s Nest open spaces due to heavy smoke. Many U.S. Forest Service trails and campsites in and around the Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests are closed.

County Road 27 (Stove Prairie Road) east of Crystal Mountain is no longer passable, and any residents who have not evacuated must now evacuate to the west on Buckhorn Road.

Current road closures include Rist Canyon Road, Buckhorn Road at Masonville, and Colorado Highway 14 through Poudre Canyon from Ted’s Place at U.S. Highway 287 to Stove Prairie Road (between mile markers 106 and 121) and from Walden to Cameron Pass (mile markers 34 to 61). Highway 287 from Owl Canyon to County Road 54G had been closed because of reduced visibility due to heavy smoke.

Citizen briefings will take place at the Red Cross evacuation center at the McKee Building at The Ranch, the Larimer County Fairgrounds complex, at I-25 and Crossroads Boulevard in Loveland. The center was moved from Cache La Poudre Middle School last night due to the heavy smoke blanketing the area. The next briefing is scheduled for 3 p.m. today.

The Larimer County Health Department has issued a Wildfire Health Advisory and recommends limiting outdoor activities due to poor air quality. The Poudre School District has canceled all outdoor activities for Monday, and the Poudre River Library District’s puppet shows scheduled for Bellvue and the Rist Canyon Fire House have also been canceled.

For information on volunteering to help the victims of the High Park Fire, call the United Way of Larimer County at 2-1-1 or 970-406-7066. The Red Cross and Larimer County Humane Society both ask that you not drop off donations of food, clothing or other stuff at The Ranch. Cash is what is needed now to take care of those displaced. Go to redcross.org or larimerhumane.org to donate.

Information on the High Park Fire is available at www.inciweb.org/incident/2904/ or Larimer County Emergency Management at 970-498-5500.

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