Hewlett Fire 85 percent contained after Saturday’s rain

Northern Colorado received about a half-inch of rain on Saturday, which helped slow the spread of the Hewlett Fire. Fire officials reported the blaze was 85 percent contained at 9 a.m. on May 20. It is still burning north of the Poudre Canyon about 10 miles from the junction of Colorado Highway 14 and U.S. Highway 287.

A total of 582 personnel have been fighting the fire that started on May 14, with three helicopters assigned to the fire on Sunday.

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All evacuations and road closures have been lifted, and the Fort Collins Gateway Natural Area has been reopened. Greyrock and Hewlett Gulch Trailheads and associated trails in the Roosevelt National Forest remain closed, as does Larimer County’s Eagle’s Nest Open Space near Livermore.

The Mishawaka Amphitheatre also remains closed and Sunday’s Keb’ Mo’ concert will be rescheduled.

Of the 7,685 acres burned this week, 6,118 are on U.S. Forest Service land. Another 1,322 are private land and 245 owned by the state of Colorado.

James J. Weber of Fort Collins has admitted to starting the fire accidently with an alcohol-fueled campstove while camping on the Hewlett Gulch Trail. He faces a fine of $325 for burning without a permit, but the Forest Service may also pursue restitution.

The cost of fighting the fire has risen beyond an estimated $1.5 million. An emergency disaster declaration by Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday makes $3 million in state funds available to pay for the effort.

On Tuesday, May 15, the Larimer County Commissioners extended restrictions on open fires and fireworks through June 15 for the unincorporated areas of the county. The restrictions, originally adopted in April in conjunction with restrictions on the Roosevelt National Forest, ban smoking in the open, agricultural burning, campfires and all use of fireworks.

Any person who knowingly violates the restrictions commits a class 2 petty offense and can be fined.

However, contained open fires in campstoves such as the one Weber was using are not banned at this time.