FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – Calmer weather on Saturday allowed crews to gain the upper hand on a wildfire that has scorched between 750 and 1,000 acres in the foothills west of Fort Collins. It’s now 45 percent contained.
Nick Christensen, spokesman for the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department, said strong winds that caused havoc Friday have died down, and many of the residents who were forced to leave the area were allowed to return home.
“It started near the entrance to Lory State Park. As far as the exact cause, it’s still under investigation,” Poudre Fire Authority Chief Tom DeMint said.
No injuries were reported, and no structures were damaged.
On Friday, 860 phone lines received automated calls ordering evacuations, but some addresses have multiple lines and other numbers were cellphones, so the exact number of homes in the evacuation area was not known. Christensen said a second round of 579 phone lines received the calls later Friday.
All evacuation orders were expected to be lifted at 8 p.m. Saturday.
“It has been nerve-racking. We are safe, our animal is safe and we have what we need,” an evacuee told CBS4.
“The fire is not out. We’re going to let you go home, but please stay ready to be evacuated,” Larimer County Undersheriff Bill Nelson told the evacuees.
The fire was spotted Friday morning and is burning in steep, rugged and rocky terrain west of Horsetooth Reservoir, near the scene of a large wildfire last summer that burned 259 homes and killed one person.
Tony Simons with Larimer County Emergency Services said cloud cover and higher relative humidity on Saturday helped the more than 100 firefighters battling the blaze.
“Both of those are going to aid in the suppression efforts,” he said. “However, there is still a lot of fire on the ground.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Galena Fire
The fire, which authorities say was accidentally sparked and was not the result of a prescribed burn, comes as much of the state deals with drought conditions after a relatively dry winter.
Colorado’s wildfire season also started in March last year.
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