WRAY, Colo. (AP) – Residents on Colorado’s eastern plains are trying to determine the extent of damage and the number of farm animals killed following a wildfire that charred more than 37 square miles.
One firefighter was critically injured and two others were treated and released for minor injuries while trying to escape from a stranded fire truck after the fire broke out on Sunday.
Firefighter Jennifer Struckmeyer was in critical condition in a hospital’s burn center on Tuesday, said Gene Haffner, spokesman for the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley.
Her brother-in-law, Damon Struckmeyer, and a third firefighter, Darren Stewart, were treated and have been released.
Yuma County Sheriff Chad Day said two farmsteads were destroyed and residents are trying to round up cattle left wandering after the fire. An undetermined number of animals were killed, he said. He said the fire was likely caused by an electrical spark.
“We’re trying to contact all of the residents of the burn area to try to determine the loss and the property damage. The biggest question now is about lost cattle. This is a tight-knit community and we have neighbors helping neighbors,” Day said Tuesday.
The sheriff said he believes local communities can deal with the damage and he has not asked for state or federal assistance. The state brand inspector may be called in to help sort out the cattle owners, he said.
Evacuated residents of the small town of Eckley and surrounding areas were allowed to return home after the fire was brought under control on Monday.
Day said that as many as 1,000 residents may have been forced from their homes and some are staying with friends and relatives.
More than a dozen area fire departments fought the fire, which started at about 1:15 p.m. Sunday south of Yuma and quickly spread toward Eckley, prompting the evacuations.
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