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Amid Rumors Of A Death In Burn Area, Evacuees Have To Relocate

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An evacuee looks through donated clothing at the evacuation center in Laporte (credit: CBS)

An evacuee looks through donated clothing at the evacuation center in Laporte (credit: CBS)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

LAPORTE, Colo. (CBS4) – As the High Park Fire continued to burn west of Fort Collins, the Red Cross held meetings for evacuees on Sunday in Laporte. But later Sunday night the evacuation center had to relocate to the Larimer County Fairgrounds because of low air quality.

At a community meeting that took place in the Cache La Poudre Middle School gym at 3 p.m. on Sunday many of the evacuees were hearing rumors about an unconfirmed death in the burn area. The Larimer County Sheriff’s Department addressed the rumor stressing the reports are unconfirmed.

On Sunday it was a much different scene at the evacuation center than on Saturday when only a couple dozen people showed up. About 20 people stayed overnight. It was standing room only at the Sunday meeting as more than 300 people attended trying to find out if their homes were still standing.

One woman told CBS4’s Stan Bush that she knows she lost her home because she only had 10 minutes to evacuate before it got too dangerous.

“You know your heart hurts. In my mind I know we’ll be okay, but it’s just a shock. It’s like being in a war zone — like a (post traumatic stress syndrome) type of thing. It’s just such a change and so intense and it moves so fast that I think that just freaked out a lot of people,” the woman said.

She said losing her house is the least of what’s happened and there are more important things.

“We got our animals out, we got our families out, and we’re safe and the community is incredible, our fire department is incredible,” the woman said.

“I couldn’t see it, but my neighbor called me and said, ‘The fire is coming down the mountain behind your house — get out.’ That’s the only reason I’m alive, because one neighbor called me,” another woman said.

“Very worried; don’t know if we’ve got a place to go to or not,” a man said. “It’s three-quarters of a mile west of Fire Station 1; it’s right in the middle of it. And they can’t give me any information if it’s burning or not.”

Some evacuees are choosing to stay in hotels, others are spending the night with relatives and friends.

“You could tell the fire was fairly close, probably within a quarter mile,” said Darren Pope, who had to evacuate at about 3 a.m. Sunday morning. “The sky was on fire. The whole ridge line was on fire.”

Around 9 p.m. Sunday the Red Cross made the move to relocate the evacuation center to The Ranch at the Larimer County Fairgrounds in Loveland because of the deteriorating air quality.

Gov. John Hickenlooper also met with some evacuees on Sunday.

Wildfire Resources

- Visit CBSDenver.com’s Wildfire Resources section.

- Read recent Wildfire stories.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfire (Fourmile Fire) and largest wildfire (Hayman Fire) in Colorado history.

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