By Conor McCue

ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – The Kruger Rock Fire is now 40% contained and Highway 36 is back open. The wildfire has burned 145 acres in steep terrain in the Estes Park area.

(credit: CBS)

Colorado officials believe strong winds knocked down power lines on Tuesday morning, causing the wildfire at daybreak. High winds throughout the day made it impossible for helicopters or planes to make slurry or water drops on the fire, but a small plane that was believed to be monitoring the fire on Tuesday evening crashed, killing the pilot, who was identified by the aviation company as Marc Thor Olson.

No structures have been damaged so far but residents in some parts of southern Estes Park and some nearby areas in Larimer County remained evacuated from their homes overnight. Some evacuees took shelter at the nearby YMCA of the Rockies.

“We just are very thankful for the Y[MCA] being here and all the firefighter personnel and emergency people that were out in our area,” said Georgia Savage, who lives off Little Valley Drive.

By Wednesday evening, some evacuation orders had been downgraded and Highway 36 between Estes Park to Lyons was back open.

“Oh my gosh, my mom,” said Stefani Erickson, who lives off Pole Hill Road. “She’s not accustomed to being out of the house, so getting her home is going to be the best part of it.”

Colder weather moved in overnight to the Estes Park area, but it won’t last for long, according to Meteorologist Ashton Altieri.

“Somewhat warmer and definitely windier weather will return Thursday afternoon which will unfortunately raise the fire danger again. There is already a Fire Weather Watch for the foothills and Palmer Divide that will likely become a Red Flag Warning. Unfortunately the watch includes the Estes Park area where the Kruger Rock Fire continues to burn,” Altieri said.

The Kruger Rock Fire on Wednesday (credit: CBS)

The fire didn’t grow much overnight into Wednesday morning, with much of the growth on Tuesday on National Forest lands. Firefighters planned to take advantage of cooler temperatures and lighter winds on Wednesday.

With the warmer temperatures and windy weather returning on Thursday, crews plan to focus their efforts on the north end of the fire where there is more challenging terrain. So far, the most progress toward containment has been on the south and east sides, officials report.

LINK: Larimer County Kruger Rock Fire Info Website

According to the USDA, air resources may support firefighters on the ground in challenging terrain as weather permits. Additional firefighting resources have been ordered.

RELATED: Estes Park Residents & Visitors Watch Kruger Rock Fire With Worrisome Gazes

Conor McCue