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High Park Fire Now The Most Destructive In State History

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An image from Copter4 on June 13 (credit: CBS)

An image from Copter4 on June 13 (credit: CBS)

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GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- The High Park Fire is now the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, surpassing the Fourmile Fire.

The High Park Fire burning west of Fort Collins. It’s destroyed at least 181 homes and that number could grow. The fire has burned 54,232 acres or 84.7 square miles, with 20 percent containment. Containment is expected to increase on Saturday.

Hundreds of people remain evacuated even though some evacuations were lifted Saturday morning. At 6 p.m. Saturday residents of Soldier Canyon and Mill Canyon will be allowed to return home. Residents should not go to the road block prior to 6 p.m. as no one will be allowed in.

There are now additional crews working on the 200 acre spot fire near Glacier View. Two 20-person Hotshot crews will be securing that line around that fire today.

There are 1,553 personnel, 103 engines, 16 helicopters working the fire Saturday. The three feller bunchers ordered have arrived and will be focusing on structure protection efforts in the Buckhorn and Pingree Park areas.

A firefighter was taken by life flight to the hospital on Saturday. He suffered a non-life-threatening medical emergency due to a pre-existing condition. He is listed in stable condition.

The current cost of the fire to date is now estimated at $9.1 million.

U.S. Senators from Colorado Mark Udall and Michael Bennet visited the U.S. Forest Service’s incident command center on Saturday to receive a briefing on the ongoing High Park Fire.

“The tankers are the equivalent of hundreds of individuals on the ground creating fire breaks, so we need those tankers and we’ll now be able to lease state-of-the-art tankers. They won’t be available for this fire but they’ll be available for the fires of the future,” Udall said.

After the preliminary assessment, 181 homeowners from the Stratton Park, Pine Acres, Soldier Canyon, Missile Silo Road, Cloudy Pass, Picnic Rock, Spring Valley, Old Flowers, Whale Rock, Paradise Park, Tip Top, Rist Creek, Poudre Fire Authority District along the Front Range, Poudre Canyon from Stove Prairie to the mouth of Poudre Canyon, Davis Ranch, Laurence Creek/Redstone, Buckhorn (44H), Stove Prairie, and Rist Canyon have been notified that their homes have been destroyed. Buckhorn is unknown due to the team being unable to fully access this site due to firefighting activity in the area, but at this time no homes are known to be lost.

The following is a breakdown of homes lost to the fire by area:

Soldier Canyon 0 1
Missile Silo Road – 1
Cloudy Pass – m1
Picnic Rock – 1
Pine Acres – 5
Stratton Park – 21
Poudre Canyon – 17
Spring Valley – 3
Old Flowers 1
Whale Rock – 40
Paradise Park – 12
Tip Top – Uknown
Rist Creek – 7
Davis Ranch – 51
Laurence Creek/Redstone – 0
Buckhorn (CR44H) – Unknown
Stove Prairie Road – 10
Rist Canyon – 8

The evacuation order for the residents of Santanka Trail at the north end of Horsetooth Reservoir has been lifted. Residents of Cloudy Pass can return home as of noon Saturday (no credentials necessary). Residents from the mouth of the Poudre Canyon up to Gateway Park will be allowed to return as of 2 p.m. These residents will need to obtain credentials either at the evacuation center or the road block. Again, only residents will be allowed in this area. Highway 14 remains closed to the public.

high park fire map High Park Fire Now The Most Destructive In State History

(credit: CBS)

Lory and Horsetooth Parks remain closed through the weekend; however the reservoir is open.

Residents worried about looting in the fire area should be reassured there is a very strong law enforcement and National Guard presence to deter any such activity and to date there are no confirmed reports of looting.

Thunderstorms over the fire caused some problems on Friday.

“We had a thunderstorm over the fire. There was lightning with it. It produced very little rain just a tiny bit of rain on the southwest portion of the fire,” said Fire Incident Meteorologist Dave Lipson.

Increased winds could make conditions tough for firefighters over the weekend.

“Sunday we go back to a dry pattern with a dry west wind and hot, dry conditions on Sunday. Then on Monday and/or Tuesday we have a hurdle to jump across because the winds, there is the potential for pretty strong westerly winds Monday if not Monday and Tuesday. We could be looking at the potential for 50 mph winds on some of the exposed ridges,” said Lipson.

RELATED LINK: High Park Fire Friday Afternoon Update

There has been some progress in fighting the fire.

“There has been good progress on the Lawrence Creek area as well as the Old Camp Road area. Structure protection has been working there for the past few days. They’re seeing positive results and we’re encouraged by that work,” said Sunshine Fire Protection District Brett Haberstick.

Those who live in areas where property damage has been confirmed can call (970) 619-4086 to find out the status of their home. This phone line will be staffed from 8 a.m. from 5 p.m.

Another problem the wildfire has caused is it’s forcing some bears that live in the area out of their habitat and searching for safer areas.

“Over the last 24 hours interestingly we have been seeing a lot of lot of bears in the fire grounds,” Brett Haverstick with the Sunshine Fire Protection District said.

Haverstick said fire crews are trying to respect the bears space while fighting the fire.

A disaster center has also opened in Fort Collins on Colorado State University’s campus for people affected by the fire. More Info

The American Red Cross will open a second shelter at 8 p.m. Friday at the Cache La Poudre Middle School, 3515 West County Road 54G, Laporte, CO 80535. All Red Cross services including lodging, food, medical and emotional support will be available at the new shelter.

The new shelter is being opened to accommodate the Glacier View evacuees so they can be closer to their homes. Air quality issues that caused the Cache La Poudre shelter to be closed earlier have improved.

The shelter at The Ranch & Budweiser Center in Loveland will also remain open.

The South Bay and Inlet Bay areas of Horsetooth Reservoir have reopened for boating. Highway 14 remains closed from Ted’s Place to Walden.

Full containment of the fire is not expected to be completed for several weeks.

One person has died in the fire. Linda Steadman, 62, was killed in her cabin which was in an evacuation zone. Emergency crews’ efforts to reach her by phone and in person failed.

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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