FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Residents of a neighborhood west of Fort Collins remain on standby to evacuate in case winds whip up a wildfire that burned 1,348 acres.
The Galena Fire is 80 percent contained. Incident commander Tony Simons on Monday said crews hope to increase the figure to 90 percent by the end of the day.
Officials said over the weekend the Galena Fire was human caused, but they wouldn’t elaborate on how it started.
The fire grew rapidly amid strong winds on Friday afternoon and forced evacuations of hundreds of homes next to Lory State Park, just west of Horsetooth Reservoir.
On Saturday night evacuations were lifted and on Monday morning officials said they had the fire 75 percent contained and hoped for even more containment by the day’s end.
No structures were destroyed in the fire but Colorado Parks & Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said “numerous pedestrian bridges were burnt in the fire in the lower valley trail system.”
There were 130 firefighters working to control the fire on Monday and officials were hoping to use two helicopters to make water drops.
Two firefighters were taken to the hospital over the weekend after sustaining minor injuries while fighting the fire.
Homeowners said that with the winds keeping planes and helicopters grounded through most of the weekend, they were thankful for the hard work of local firefighters.
“I can tell you that within the last couple years, our ground crews have been seasoned with the real thing,” resident Doug Dempsey said. “Boy they move fast, and they come in and they know what to do and where to go and it makes you feel much better. But then Mother Nature throws a 20 mph wind into the equation and all bets are off.”
When mentioning a cause, officials would only say the human caused fire ignited near the state park entrance.
“Our Poudre Fire Authority investigators, they determined cause and origin and have determined pretty precisely where that is. They’re still trying to nail down the cause,” Poudre Fire Authority Chief Tom DeMint said. “It was not a controlled burn, it was not an illegal burn, it wasn’t a slash-pile burn. It wasn’t anybody burning on purpose.”
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