FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – The severity of the Hewlett Fire near Fort Collins has prompted Gov. John Hickenlooper to declare a disaster emergency.
The executive order states that the fire’s “proximity to numerous homes and property poses an imminent danger to life and property and, therefore, constitutes a disaster for the purposes of the Act.”
As a result, $3 million will be made available from the state’s Disaster Emergency Fund to help pay for firefighting efforts.
Hickenlooper also activated the Colorado National Guard to help with the response to the fire.
The fire on Friday morning was listed at 7,673 acres, which is more than 11 square miles. Some of the hottest spots are burning in the southeast corner and along the northwest edge of the fire.
It was 11 percent contained Friday afternoon and 15 homes remain evacuated, although it’s expected those residents will be allowed to return home before the end of the day.
More than 500 firefighters are battling the fire, which started on Monday in Poudre Canyon in Larimer County near Highway 14.
Greg Heule with the Incident Management Team overseeing the fire said he was optimistic about the progress made in the firefight on Thursday.
“Yesterday was a good day,” Heule said Friday morning. “We accomplished a lot yesterday and partly because of the fire behavior we had yesterday. What we accomplished yesterday is going to help with our fire behavior today, so yes, it’s a good day and we’re hoping for a good one today.”
Last night officials were able to complete back burns in some areas to prevent the fire from spreading.
Another positive aspect is that the fire is now moving into an area that previously burned in the Picnic Rock Fire a few years ago. This means the fuels in the area aren’t as large and are easier to manage.
Fire officials said they have an air tanker, a single engine air tanker and five helicopters on the ready for the firefight Friday afternoon.
Warm, dry and windy conditions are expected to continue into Friday evening but on Saturday cooler temperatures, higher humidity and the possibility of rain are in the forecast.