LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Officials have called off evacuations in more areas around the High Park Fire Wednesday afternoon, but put another area back on pre-evacuation orders.
The fire west of Fort Collins is listed at 46,600 acres and is about 10 percent contained. Officials said Wednesday night that a total of 600-plus residences have been evacuated.
The federal incident team overseeing the battle was hoping for a larger containment number by the end of the day, but that didn’t happen.
“There are concerns of beetle kill to the west,” said Federal Incident Management Team spokesman Brett Haverstick. “On the southern perimeter fire crews are having difficulty connecting the dots, specifically between Windsong and Lawrence Creek Drive.”
“Driving down here there was free fire and pinching on the road with flame lengths like this and you could just see that necklace of flame winding up the hill out of sight in the trees,” field observer Rob Bozeman said. “By the same token, less than a mile away there were three trees torching putting up 250-foot flames and black smoke.”
More than 1,000 fire crews are working to get control of the fire along with 22 different aircrafts fighting the blaze by air. Firefighting efforts will continue 24 hours a day.
Evacuations were lifted for the Shoreline Drive area and the Bellvue area east of County Road 27-E.
Some evacuated residents attended the 3 p.m. citizens briefing at the evacuation center — The Ranch at the Larimer County Fairgrounds. At that meeting many residents learned if their houses burned or not. Others were given instructions on how they can get credentials for returning to their homes in the areas where evacuations will be lifted.
RELATED VIDEO: Wednesday Afternoon High Park Fire Update
The meeting was very emotional, and the Red Cross had many mental health specialists available at the center to help people cope with the feelings of loss.
While the High Park Fire continues to pose a threat on areas to the north, south and west of the burn area, officials were optimistic that there won’t need to be additional evacuations on Wednesday, although the Glacier View area was once again put on pre-evacuation orders Wednesday afternoon after officials lifted the orders Tuesday night. Officials said 1023 calls went out to the area.
“If it wasn’t for the smoke I wouldn’t leave tonight,” said Jim Doran, who is on pre-evacuation orders. “It’s either going to come across or not, and if it doesn’t then we’re going to be okay.”
Officials are also hoping to lift evacuation orders on Thursday in these areas:
- Bonner Peaks Ranch
- 29C Missile Silo Road outside Rist Canyon
- Mill Canyon
- Soldier Canyon
Temporary road closures remain at Horsetooth Reservoir, Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, and Eagle’s Nest Open Space through Thursday.
So far it’s still not clear how many homes have been destroyed by the fire. On Tuesday night officials said the fire, which started from lightning on Saturday morning, has now cost more than $3 million to fight.
One person was killed in the fire; the remains of Linda Steadman, 62, were found in her burned home.
The fire is the third largest in recent Colorado history. The fire’s area is bigger than the city of Fort Collins.