FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Firefighters in Larimer County continue to try to slow the spread of the High Park Fire “in a patient manner” as it continues to move west prompting new pre-evacuation orders.
New pre-evacuation orders have been called for a stretch of residences on Highway 14 starting at Pingree Park Road West and including Glen Echo. About 95 contacts were made for residences in that area. Other areas remain on pre-evacuation notice, including most of the Glacier View area, and there remain hundreds who are evacuated.
The fire is 55 percent contained, and the containment line now measures about 49 miles. That means the total mileage of the line around the fire is about 100 miles right now. The fire is listed at 59,500 acres.
On Wednesday afternoon John Schulz with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said evacuees who still have homes to go back to need to remain patient.
“When we have some containment it’s going to take us at least 24 hours once that containment is done before we’re able to get things cooled down enough for us to get back in and look to see if we can start bringing people back home there,” Schultz said. “So people shouldn’t expect that right away when they see the black on the map and we have some containment that they’re going to be able to go back the next day.”
Incident commander Bill Hahnenberg said on Tuesday morning that it’s the nature of firefighters like him to want to quickly extinguish wildland fires so they can move on to the next one, but the High Park Fire — Colorado’s third largest wildfire and its most destructive in terms of property damage — continues to be dynamic; it is making a more patient approach necessary.
CBS4′s Ed Greene said to expect cooler temperatures on Wednesday with a chance of isolated thunderstorms Thursday. Hahnenberg warned that without significant rainfall the firefight will likely continue for weeks and maybe months.
The Colorado National Guard released video of firefighters battling the blaze inside the fire lines.
PHOTO GALLERY: High Park: Inside The Fire Lines
There are about 1,800 personnel working on the fire right now, and that includes hundreds working in “spike camps” — small camps scattered around the perimeter of the fire.
“I believe we’ve got some of the best minds in the wildland fire business currently working on this,” Hahnenberg said. “Both with the tactical applications and the long-term operational contingency planning that is so vitally important with a fire of almost 60,000 acres spread out over the landscape with structures all around every portion of this perimeter.”
The top priorities on Tuesday in the firefight were protecting structures within the pockets of unburned land in the burn area and preventing the spread of the fire in a small section of the southeast flank of the burn area.
The fire has destroyed 189 homes and has cost more than $9 million to fight so far. The fire started on June 9 and was caused by lightning.
Meanwhile a fire burning on an estimated 250 acres of private land west of Craig was threatening structures and prompted an unknown number of evacuations Tuesday night, Bureau of Land Management spokesman David Boyd said.
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