CONIFER, Colo. (CBS4)– Fire crews made some progress Friday on the Lower North Fork Fire. The containment was 70 percent Friday afternoon.
Firefighters are concerned about the weekend weather which calls for record-high heat and strong winds. There is the possibility of a red flag warning by noon Saturday.
There were five helicopters making water drops and 500-600 firefighters fighting the fire on the ground which allowed them to increase containment. Calmer winds also helped.
Fire crews are still combating steep and rugged terrain. Low humidity and high quantities of unusually dry fuels continue to be a factor on the fire. Forecasts are indicating that Red Flag conditions may be present on Saturday and Sunday.
These conditions have contributed to the decision to not lift the evacuation orders for the 180 homes in the Kuehster, Critchell, and Maxwell Hill neighborhoods. People living in those areas have become frustrated with the amount of time they have been out of their homes.
“The feedback I got was they’re not seeing much smoke out there at all. Well, they’re out there looking at it from a car. We’re out there on the ground, putting our hands down, making sure that this thing is safe. It is not a guarantee and we are still worried about it,” said Incident Management Team Member Rich Harvey.
Those homeowners still under evacuation orders have been escorted into the burn area to check on their property.
The fire was apparently sparked by a state-prescribed burn that was stirred up by strong winds on Monday. Since then, 27 homes have been damaged or destroyed, an elderly couple was found dead at one of the homes and a woman whose house was destroyed remains missing.
The planned fire fighting strategy for Saturday will include continuing to construct and improve containment lines while also continuing mop up efforts. Evacuation zones will be re-evaluated as conditions change.
Classes at Conifer High School have been cancelled Tuesday, the first scheduled day after spring break. The fire command center is at the school.