GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Officials announced Monday afternoon that they have found eight more homes destroyed by the High Park Fire, bringing the total to 189.
The sheriff is Larimer County is asking residents in pre-evacuation areas outside the High Park Fire burn area not to get complacent.
The fire in Larimer County is listed at 58,046 acres or 92 square miles and remains 50 percent contained, but weather conditions on Sunday and again on Monday presented a major challenge, although crews were able to make some progress on Monday.
“The expected winds were not as strong as they were (Sunday). They amount of fire activity in the big timber on the western perimeter was not as extreme,” Fire information officer Brett Haberstick said. “So therefore we have a lot less smoke and a lot better working conditions for the crews.”
In dry, hot and windy conditions on Sunday the High Park Fire did a 1,500 acre run in the southern part of the fire, and several homes burned in the Redstone Canyon area. One of those was a home belonging to a firefighter who has been fighting the fire.
That unexpected fire activity prompted officials to call for evacuations of 300 homes in Soldier Canyon and Mill Canyon. Residents of those homes had previously been evacuated because of the fire but had been allowed to return home a few days ago. The fire started on June 9 and was caused by lightning.
Sheriff Justin Smith said in a Monday morning briefing that the fire’s activity Sunday served as a reminder the fire is still capable of jumping fire lines in some areas. He called Sunday a “tough day” in the firefighting campaign. Poudre Fire Authority Chief Tom DeMint echoed those sentiments.
“The dragon tried to lure us into an image that it was asleep, and it told us yesterday it’s not sleeping. It’s still ready to aim at us,” DeMint said.
Smith said residents who remain under pre-evacuation orders — which includes many in the Glacier View area to the northwest of the fire and the Shoreline area to the burn area’s southeast side — need to know that sometimes there is only a 30 minute window that they’ll have in which to evacuate after the order is handed down.
DeMint said in a piece of good news that firefighters in the Redstone Canyon area saw several burros near the flames and were able to herd them to a safe zone.
There are 1,748 personnel working on the fire. About 700 of those people are working in “spike camps” — small camps scattered around the perimeter of the fire. Seventeen helicopters worked throughout the day on Monday while six hotshot crews worked to contain a 1,500 acre portion of the fire.
Structure protection remains the top priority as well as digging and getting a better containment line.
On Tuesday less wind is expected in the burn area.
Officials said on Saturday that the fire has burned at least 181 homes, which makes it the most destructive fire in state history in terms of property damage.