6:32am

Tue June 12, 2012
Environment

High Park Fire: Day 4 Updates

Editor's Note: The High Park Fire started on Saturday, June 9th . Winds and high temperatures helped the fire rapidly spread. The blaze has grown from an initial 8,000 acres by the end of Saturday to an announced 43,372 acres by the end of Tuesday. Our day 1 updates are archived here and our day 2 updates are archived here. Updates from Monday, day 3 of the fire, are archived here. This post archives all of our updates from day 3. The latest news of the High Park Fire has moved to this post.

Update 8:27pm

Officials have announced that the cost so far of fighting the fire is $3 million.

Update 8:11pm

Officials have announced that the High Park Fire is now 43,372 acres with 10% containment.

Update 7:05pm via the Larimer Sheriff on Twitter

 

Update 6:55pm

Compared to the first couple of days of the fire, today's weather has been favorable. Lower temps and calmer winds are helping crews with the High Park Fire. The fire remains at 5% containment, but we are expecting an announcement this evening at the close of the operational day of a new containment figure.

Some evacuees were allowed back in earlier today in the South Horsetooth area, while at the same time fire managers implemented new mandatory evacuations in Pingree Park.

Reporter Kirk Siegler sent in this report from Bellvue, CO:

Larimer County sheriff’s officials are warning residents living in the wildfire’s path to heed evacuation orders and LEAVE their property. Sheriff spokesman Nick Christensen says this has been a continual problem since the High Park Fire ignited and it makes it difficult for emergency crews and firefighters to get equipment into mountain neighborhoods. In one case, he says, a homeowner lit their own back burn around their property which posed huge safety problems. Says Christensen:

"They are expected to leave, if they refuse we move on and they’re able to stay but that creates a risky situation for themselves and the responders both."

No citations have been issued. Larimer County officials estimate a couple thousand people have been displaced by this fire – but they say it’s difficult to know for sure because some of the mountain residences are cabins and others are second homes.

Update 4:46pm

The western edge of the fire continues to be a concern. It is active and the fire is moving into an area that contains "70% beetle killed trees". The northwest is also an active area of the fire as well.

Some other good news this afternoon: a 120 acre spot fire on the north side of Highway 14 has been contained.

The number of personnel available to fight the fire continues to expand, the current count stands at 500. 50 National Guard Members have been asked for to assist with roadblocks. Officials are still expecting to have 100 engines by tomorrow to assist with fighting the fire.

Update 4:17pm

Here's a time lapse video we found on YouTube of the fire from this weekend. This footage is from user ColoBoyzFilms. It was filmed with an HD camera so it's worth checking the HD setting and clicking to go fullscreen.

Update 3:24pm

Earlier in the day we posted about the importance of the air resources to fighting the High Park Fire. We even had some video of a Type 1 helicopter in action (9:52am update). In the morning media brief Incident Commander Bill Hahnenberg stated that air support usually ends up being 30/40% of the total cost of fighting a fire.

Reporters Nathan Heffel and Grace Hood took a look at the air support helping to fight the High Park Fire from two different angles.

Grace visited the Fort Collins-Loveland Airport and got a tour of the equipment on the tarmac before air operations started this morning.

Nathan Heffel took a look at the "heavies". The heavy air tanker is usually the scene stealer for any wildfire due to the sheer volume of materials they can drop, but they come at a cost. The fleet is older and the planes are expensive to operate.

Update 2:39pm via Jeremy Meyer of the Denver Post on Twitter

Governor Hickenlooper also earlier today stopped by the Red Cross shelter at the Ranch to visit evacuees. He recorded a thank you to the volunteers that the Denver chapter of the Red Cross has posted at their blog.

Update 2:05pm

Boulder County expanded their fire ban yesterday due to ongoing dry and windy conditions. Part of that ban includes a complete ban on the use and sale of fireworks in the unincorporated county. Following along in that vein Larimer County has done the same, banning the use and sale of fireworks and public fireworks displays in unincorporated Larimer County

Update 1:31pm

For those unfamiliar with the area that the sheriff has issued evacuation orders for, the Pingree Park Road area is in the Roosevelt National Forest. This area is on the west edge of the fire, which officials were concerned with this morning due to the rough terrain and the presence of dry fuel for the fire.

Inside the evacuation boundary described in the sheriff's order is the Pingree Park Campus for Colorado State University and Hourglass and Comanche reservoirs. Both reservoirs are owned by the city of Greeley and are part of the city's water supply. During May's Hewlett Fire, Milton Seaman Reservoir, another one of Greeley's reservoirs was under threat by fire.

Update 12:38pm

As one evacuation order was rescinded another has been issued. From the Larimer Sheriff:

Evacuation orders have been issued for the entire Pingree Park Road area, to include Hourglass and Comanche Reservoirs, east on the Buckhorn Road up to and including Pennock Pass, northeast to the intersection of Stove Prairie Road and Highway 14, and west to the intersection of Highway 14 and Pingree Park Road. All evacuated citizens may go to The McKee building at The Ranch at I25 and Crossroads Boulevard.

Update 12:26pm via Grace Hood on Twitter

Here's the official release from Larimer County.

 

Update 11:47am

There have been a lot of questions around the W.O.L.F Sanctuary, 9News has a slideshow and and update.

Update 11:24am

While progress has been made on slowing the growth of the fire, weather is a concern today. Especially to the south of the fire. The forecast calls for a high of 85° today and southeast wind, 6 to 11 mph. Gusts aren't expected to be as extreme as previous days, only up to 17 mph.

Bill Hahnenberg spoke to the weather in the morning briefing. He noted that "Colorado is extremely dry and severe fire risk will continue until fall, unless monsoons come in early July".

The corner to the northeast of the fire continues to be hot and is a concern. The western flank of the fire is in very difficult terrain. With the fire moving right into the forest there is lot of fuel and an accessibility concern for crews. This aerial photo from Beren on Twitter shows the eastern flank along Horsetooth reservoir. On the far left of the picture you can see the smoke generated by fuel in the forest.

 

While there still isn't a full determination on structures and homes lost or damaged, according to the sheriff, it appears that the famous Stove Prairie School was likely spared.

Additionally, the emergency communications site and broadcast towers on Buckhorn Mountain are no longer in immediate danger from the fire.

Update 10:46am

The High Park Fire by the numbers today:

  • 43,433 Acres
  • Approx. 70% private land / 30% US Forest Service land
  • 5% containment, the goal is 10% by the end of the day
  • Air resources for today:
    - 5 Heavy air tankers
    - 5 Single engine air tankers
    - 4 Type 1 heavy helicopters
    - 3 Type 2 medium helicopters
    - 4 Type 3 helicopters
    - 3 Blackhawk helicopters from the National Guard
  • Ground resources for today:
    - 500 firefighters
    - 26 Engines (a surge is coming, 100 engines expected by the end of the day.

With those numbers you can see why the High Park Fire has become one of the largest fires in Colorado history. Brian Larson has a look at how the High Park Fire ranks among Colorado wildfires.

Update 9:52am

Here's some video from yesterday's heavy air support that we mentioned earlier. You can see why this type of support ends up being 30/40% of the cost of fighting a fire.

This footage is of a heavy type snorkel heli-tanker working along the reservoir. Posted on YouTube by user RealEstateRuby.

Update 9:48am

From the media briefing: the High Park Fire has cost $1.6 million so far. 30/40% of the cost is typically air support.

Update 9:45am via Kirk Siegler on Twitter

 

Update 9:22am

Here's a pretty detailed map of the High Park Fire area [pdf] from 10:00pm last night.

Update 9:15am

Media briefing due up at 9:30am. You can stream it live from local TV: CBS4 or 9News.

Update 8:47am

Smoke is very noticeable across the Front Range today. You could smell and see smoke or haze from smoke in Denver this morning as this blogger can attest. Here was the view this morning in Fort Collins from Chelsea on Twitter:

Jackie Fortier looked at the safety of the air quality yesterday and had some helpful tips, especially so given the active lifestyle here in Colorado.

Update 8:32am

From the Larimer Sheriff :

Pre-evacuation notifications have been sent to parts of Glacier View for the area south of County Road 74E, south and east of McNay Hill. This is not an evacuation, simply a pre alert to those residents on Hewlett Gulch Road, Deer Meadow Way, Gordon Creek Lane and connecting roadways in that area. Residents should be prepared to leave at a moments notice.  89 notifications were sent.

Update 8:15am

FYI for this morning:. The next citizen's briefing will be at The Ranch at 9:00am this morning. The first official media briefing will be at Watson Lake Wildlife area at 9:30am. More details on the growth and aforementioned 'some containment' are expected after the media briefing.

Update 8:05am

We've seen a lot of pictures that show the march of the fire. Not many of the fire overnight. This video was uploaded just yesterday by user danlafai on YouTube. The footage is of the fire overnight from Saturday to Sunday. The weekend was when the fire was growing the fastest and this shows how: very dramatic and tall flame. Officials stated yesterday morning that flames had been peaking between 20 - 50ft and had been moving at 1 mile an hour.

Update 7:36am via the Larimer Sheriff on Twitter

 

--

The official cause of the fire has been confirmed by emergency officials as lightning. With the natural caused fire growing yesterday to an announced 36,930 acres at 7:27am, the Type 1 Management team that assumed control of the fire had their work cut out for them on what has become one of the largest fires in Colorado history. New Incident Commander Bill Hahnenberg, as part of the Type 1 Management team, was able to bring in additional resources to the fire including more air support.

Those additional resources have paid off with what officials have described as "good progress" made in the effort to fight the High Park. Hard work from fire crews has resulted in the establishment of some hand lines and an anchor in the southwest part of the fire. Air support was a very visible part of efforts yesterday. Many of the gathered crowds who were watching the fire from adjacent hills also witnessed type 1 helicopters dropping water near homes on Soldier Canyon above Horsetooth Reservoir.

Officials stated last night that while there still was no containment number on the fire, they hoped to that they would be able to announce one this morning.

Structure protection remains the stated goal of emergency managers, however, it was announced yesterday by the Larimer Sheriff that 100 homes may have been damaged or destroyed. Many in parts of Rist Canyon, Stove Prairie, Old Flowers Road and Mill Canyon.

This assessment on structure damage was later updated at the InciWeb incident site for the High Park Fire to the following:

An undetermined number of structures have been damaged or destroyed in Rist Canyon, Paradise Park, Stove Prairie, Poudre Park, Old Flowers, Stratton Park, Kings Canyon and Cloudy Pass. There could be structure damage in other locations, including Soldier Canyon and Mill Canyon. No details about the structures are available. Firefighters will continue to evaluate the area as it is safe to do so.

One fatality was confirmed last night due to the High Park Fire. The victim has been identified as Linda Steadman, a 62 year old resident who lived on Old Flowers Rd. Her home received two emergency notifications while the fire advanced and emergency workers that were sent to the home were unable to reach it. They were turned back by the encroaching fire.