FRASER, Colo. (CBS4) – Residents in Fraser are on edge as they prepare to evacuate at a moment’s notice due to the Williams Fork Fire. While there are currently no evacuations in Fraser Valley at this time, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office has release a map of pre-evacuation areas.
The fire has burned more than 6,600 acres. Some people living in remote areas near the Williams Fork Valley have been told to leave their properties.
Ute Park Ranch has been in James Cowperthwaite’s family for 150 years.
“It’s been devastating and scary,” Cowperthwaite told CBS4’s Andrea Flores. “A lot of what has been special about this place is now, in large measure, gone.”
For decades it’s been their heaven on earth. The Williams Fork Fire is threatening their sanctuary.
“We go to get our souls restored. It’s where we bring our best friends, our best books, and it has been the focus for the happiest times of my 80 years of life,” Cowperthwaite said. “Almost everything remarkably good is connected with this place, and it’s hard to think of it being threatened.”
The fire is burning in the Arapaho National Forest and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
“We were on the initial attack, because it was down there in our fire district. We were one of the first ones on scene,” said Tom Baumgarten, Fire Chief for Hot Sulphur Springs and Parshall Fire Protections District. “There’s a lot of dead forest, a lot of beetle kill, and a lot of stacked trees on the ground. It’s hard to get in and out.”
With zero percent containment, Cowperthwaite is hopeful he can one day return to the place he calls home.
“We’re looking at October, if we get a rainstorm, we could not wish for anything better,” he said.
Fire officials have confirmed the fire was human-caused. The exact cause remains under investigation.