(CBS4) — In a pre-emptive strike intended to eliminate trees and grasses in a controlled fashion, fire crews Saturday ignited “burnouts” near homes now threatened by the High Park Fire west of Cripple Creek.
The burnouts are meant to remove fuels that could otherwise burn out of control should the High Park blaze continue it wind-driven march to the east and toward the homes.
Those burnouts contributed Saturday to an increase in the fire’s acreage, High Park Fire Incident Commander Matt Norton said in a press conference Saturday morning.
— CPW SE Region (@CPW_SE) May 14, 2022
As of Saturday morning, the fire measured 931 acres. Authorities hoped to reach 10 percent containment on the blaze by the end of Saturday’s fight, but that figure would come mainly from the work on the fire’s “heel,” or west side.
By 4 p.m., a state wildfire database showed the High Park Fire at 1,039 acres.
According to fire command, the east side of the fire is still very active with winds predicted to gust to 35 mph and relative humidity measuring in the single digits until nightfall.
“They have worked their butts off,” Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell. “I know that’s not a technical term, but they’re workin’ it.”
Mikesell named of a list of agencies in action, starting with the local Fourmile and Cripple Creek fire departments, and went on to include several other local, state and federal resources.
“So that’s a lot of people up here fighting this fire for this community.”
The sheriff received a round of applause from residents when he stated that no structures had been lost so far.
Norton explained that a spot fire leapt Lakemoor Drive late Friday which prompted additional evacuations.
The uncontrolled fire is burning on a ridge bordered by High Park Road to the west and steep, rocky terrain with dense fuels to the east, toward Fourmile Creek. Water and retardant drops have been crucial to “temper” fire behavior for grounds crews trying to conduct burnout operations and build containment lines.
The evacuation center has been moved to Woodland Park High School. The pre-evacuation order for nearby Park County residents was lifted Saturday morning.