- Posted June 14, 2012 by
Fort Collins, Colorado
High Park Fire Timeline and Updates
Day Six of the High Park Fire and smoke continues to billow into the thin air in Northern Colorado.
Started Saturday morning by a lightening strike in the High Park area, the fire quickly grew from 20-7,000 acres in its first day.
On Sunday, the fire exploded, burning 30,000 acres that day alone—up to 37,000 all told—as incredibly dark and ominous smoke clouds hung over the city of Fort Collins, Colorado's fourth largest metropolitan area. Intensely strong winds pushed the fire to grow uncontrollably, and fire officials admit the wind is the biggest obstacle in putting out the flames.
While winds improved Monday, the fire's growth slowed, though it engulfed another 6,000 acres that day, bringing the total to over 43,000. At that point, over 100 structures had burned, and it was confirmed late Monday night the first life had been claimed by the fire.
Firefighters had begun to make a difference, getting a five percent containment by the end of Monday in the northeast flank of the High Park Fire, but Tuesday the winds returned and grounded air tankers meant to drop water and fire retardant as they fly by.
On Wednesday, the fire spread south, as the pictures above show, and moved west where heavy concentrations of thick forest, much of which is beetle kill pines that are dead and extremely dry.
As of 10 a.m. MT Thursday, the fire is at 49,763 acres burned with 1,263 personnel working to quench the flames and is 10 percent contained according to the Larimer County Sheriff's Department. Currently the primary focus areas are in the south-central and southwest part of the fire near homes and preventing the fire from spreading north. While it moved somewhat close to Fort Collins, the east flank of the fire is “in good shape” according to CBS Denver.
That southern movement means the High Park Fire is nearing 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.
All told, some 900 people have been displaced from their homes while another 1,000-plus have been given pre-evacuation notices, meaning they must be packed and ready to leave at a moment's notice.
Stay tuned for more updates as they come in.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. You can follow Rich on twitter (www.twitter.com/RichKurtzman) and/or Facebook (www.facebook.com/RichKurtzman).