6:24pm

Fri March 15, 2013
Wildfires

Fort Collins Enters Wildfire Season Early As Galena Fire Burns 700 Acres

The Galena Fire, formerly known as both the Lory Fire and the Soldier Canyon Fire, is the first major fire of the year in Northern Colorado.

The fire began burning in and around Lory State Park northwest of Fort Collins late Friday morning and was reported at 11:46 a.m.

5o homes were evacuated in the early hours of the fire as firefighters and law enforcement officials went door to door warning residents. The Larimer County Sheriff’s office sent out 281 notifications to cell phones and other devices warning of the blaze.

Additional homes were evacuated as the blaze moved toward the south and west of Horsetooth Reservoir. Poudre Fire Authority responded to the blaze. Patrick Love with Poudre Fire says even though the blaze appears to have come quite early in the year, fires in March are becoming less unusual. “We had a couple fires last year in March and a couple fires that were either tens of acres or hundreds of acres in January, so this, in relation to what we call fire season in general is still a couple months off,” said Love.

Dillon Lund, from Loveland, was in the area doing fire mitigation work on a private property when he first saw the flames. “We just looked up the hill and the first thing we saw was smoke after that we walked down the hill a little bit and looked down and there was 60 foot wall of flames come up the side of the hill, it started moving south first but the winds have been changing up here all day,” said Lund.

He says the fire may have been started by a resident conducting an illegal burn. “From what I’ve seen, the first hot windy day of the year – is that people have just not learned. I mean, you just can’t burn in this stuff,” said Lund. “But one thing that I can also say is that firefighters did respond very quick. I think that last year they got a lot of training because they were up there like that.”

Officials say there has been no official cause of the blaze, which remains under investigation.

Along the south end of Horsetooth Reservoir, firefighters continue ongoing house and structure protection including burn outs and ‘hose lays’ in the area.

Patrick Love says there have been numerous requests for aircraft, but unfortunately the one helicopter on the fire had been grounded because of wind and mechanical issues. He says despite recent snow fall, vegetation along the south end of Horsetooth didn’t burn in the High Park Fire, and it’s dried out very quickly. He adds there’s  “a ripe chance” for that vegetation to burn.

A type three incident management team will take control of the blaze Saturday headed by Tony Simons of the Larimer County Sheriff’s office.

Firefighters will continue to work on the fire throughout the night with several evacuation and pre-evacuation orders remaining in place.

Right now Horsetooth reservoir is closed to boating and officials say they will wait and see what Saturday brings in terms of restricting access to areas around the fire, but are advising people to stay away from the area of the fire unless it’s absolutely necessary.

For updated information on the Galena fire call 970-498-5500.