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    Posted June 11, 2012 by
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Colorado and Utah wildfires

    richkurtzman and 14 other iReporters contributed to Open Story: Western wildfires
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    Update: High Park Fire Claims First Life, Continues to Move Towards Fort Collins, Colorado


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     While attending the annual 'Taste of Fort Collins Festival,' iReporter richkurtzman took these photos of nearby wildfires that have been raging throughout the region. He says the fires started approx. 15 miles west of Fort Collins.
    - Echerneff, CNN iReport producer

    The High Park Fire, which began on Saturday morning, has grown to over 43,000 acres as of Tuesday morning, fire officials said.


    Weather conditions, which were very windy Sunday, when the fire grew from 7,000-37,000-plus acres, improved Monday. The winds were still blowing to the North, but less intensely, and while the High Park Fire continues to grow, it is only spreading in fingers currently.


    It was confirmed early Tuesday morning that while the fire is growing, its rate of growth has slowed considerably. And fire officials now say there is a 5% containment, which they hope grows to 10% by the end of the day Tuesday. But, because winds have increased, there is no air support as of Noon Tuesday as planes have been grounded due to inversion.


    The fire began some 15 miles West of Fort Collins and continues to grow in size and move toward the city, which is located 57 miles North of state capital, Denver.


    Fort Collins, at a population of 143,000, is Colorado's fourth biggest city population-wise and is home to Colorado State University and their 25,000 students that come to Colorado from across the globe.


    The fire is also moving towards other towns, including Masonville, which is to the southwest of Fort Collins. Sarah Lindblad is a resident of Masonville, which is under pre-evacuation, meaning residents should be ready to leave at a moment's notice.


    "It is hell," Lindblad said. "Just the not knowing (if my house will still be standing)". She also said she has a front row view of the fire from her porch, which must be frightening to witness.




    The first picture shows the flames on the East side of the mountains, just West of the Horsetooth Reservoir. It was taken at 1:00 p.m. MT Monday from College and Drake roads in Fort Collins.


    The second picture shows the dark smoke hanging over the city on Saturday afternoon, during the Taste of Fort Collins in Civic Center Park, Fort Collins.


    Update 6:00 p.m. MT Monday: Fire officials have confirmed the High Park Fire has claimed its first life. Also, they have now confirmed the fire began with a lightening strike Saturday morning.


    Some 100-plus structures have been burned down and thousands of evacuees have fled their houses as the fire has approached.


    Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. You can follow him on facebook (www.facebook.com/RichKurtzman) and/or twitter (www.twitter.com/RichKurtzman).

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