11:23am

Sat March 16, 2013
Wildfires

Galena Fire Evacuees Watching And Waiting

The first major fire of the season has Horsetooth residents feeling déjà vu.

Evacuee Doyle Smith points toward his home on Inlet Court. Smith was evacuated during last year's High Park Fire and got orders Friday to leave his home.
Credit Grace Hood / KUNC

Editor's Note: Fire authorities made an update at a 3:30 p.m. media brief Saturday. The Galena Fire is 45 percent contained with about 110 fire fighters working the blaze. Evacuees will be allowed to return after 8 p.m. Saturday. More details can be found at this post.

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The Galena Fire continues to burn on the south side of Horsetooth reservoir in Fort Collins, close to where the High Park Fire of 2012 burned 259 homes and killed one person. Officials estimate at least 800 to 1,000 acres have burned but say they expect the number increase when they have more information. The fire has moved south to a point just north of the end of the Minuteman Drive area.

Officials say 579 phone lines were called to evacuate residents like Doyle Smith, who has lived in his house on Horsetooth reservoir for 23 years.

Smith says he has only been evacuated twice in that time, once last summer and now. “I don’t know what to think. I lived in that house 23 years and it’s never been a problem,” said Smith. “I feel that my home is fairly safe because at least we have fire hydrants up and down our street, where across the road from us they have nothing to fight a fire over there, in fact a lot of people have to haul in water to drink,” he said.

Officials say there has been no injury or loss of structure.

Currently there are road blocks at Shoreline Drive and County Road 38E and Skyline and 38E on the south part of the fire evacuation area. Lodgepole Drive at Lory State Park is also closed. County Road 38E is open. South Bay, Inlet Bay, Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Park remain closed.

During a press briefing Saturday morning Poudre Fire Authority Captain Patrick Love said that law enforcement are investigating the origin of the fire and have determined it was accidental. Love was quick to point out the cause was not from a controlled burn gone awry.

“I want to stress…this is not from a prescribed burn or an escaped control burn,” Love said.

Even though many residents are weary of fire, Tony Simons with Larimer County Emergency Services said during the press conference “I don’t think we have the mentality of ‘here we are again,’ we respond we train we practice for these type of incidents. …I did not get any feeling at all that there was any complacency [by emergency responders.]”

A meeting for evacuees has been scheduled for 2 p.m. at Cache la Poudre Elementary School.