9:25am

Sun April 3, 2011
Breaking: Wildfires

Work Continues on Larimer County Wildfire

Crews battling a wildfire burning about 15 miles west of Ft. Collins could get some help from air tankers if weather continues to be on their side today.

The Crystal fire has burned 4,500 acres and destroyed about 15 houses in a rugged, hilly area. Thanks to cold wet and snowy weather, residents of over 300 homes who were evacuated on Sunday were allowed back into their homes at 7:30 last night. But they've been warned to be ready to leave again. Crews plan to continue building containment lines around the fire today. The fire is only 5% contained. Updated 9:00 a.m. Monday.

-----------------------------------------------

Crystal Fire Evacuations Lifted, 15 Homes Destroyed

All evacuation orders prompted by the 4,500 acre Crystal wildfire west of Ft. Collins were lifted as of 7:30 Sunday evening. More than 300 homes were evacuated during the height of the fire. Residents will need to show proof that they live in the area to gain admittance.

Early damage estimates list 15 homes as being destroyed along with numerous cars, trucks and trailers. Cooler weather, rain and snow throughout the afternoon aided the more than 200 firefighters working the blaze. Management of the fire is still under a local type three incident team. However, it’s expected the fire will be transitioned to a type one team sometime on Monday.

Even with cooler weather in the forecast this week, residents have been warned that they may have to leave again if conditions warrant. Updated 6:50 p.m. Sunday.

------------------------------------------------

Snow is continuing to fall west of Ft. Collins were the more than 2,000 acre Crystal wildfire is burning and evacuees will be briefed later this evening.

The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office will host a meeting for evacuated residents at the Big Thompson School at 7702 West Highway 34 to update the status of the fire and any property that may have been damaged as a result. That briefing begins at 6 p.m. The Red Cross and United will be on hand to provide assistance and information.

Some of the roadblocks established earlier by the fire have been changed opening up some areas that were previously closed. An evacuation center at Cache La Poudre elementary school in Laporte has been closed. Updated 3:00 p.m. Sunday.

----------------------------------------------

During a media briefing Larimer County PIO Nick Christensen outlined their plans for fighting the Crystal fire west of Ft. Collins. The blaze has consumed more than 2,000 acres and while not confirmed by Christensen, eye witness accounts have said that several structures have been burned.

Christensen says the plan for today is to minimize the risk to firefighters and structures and get a better idea on the fire’s size and perimeter. Rain and snow is now falling over the fire area. Christensen says that can be both good and bad for firefighting efforts. He also said there is no change to evacuation orders which include more than 300 homes in the follow areas:

Buckhorn Canyon, east of Crystal Mountain Road and 226 homes in the Redstone Canyon area. The Davis Ranch Road area in Rist Canyon has also been placed on alert for possible evacuations.

The Crystal fire started Saturday morning and was fanned overnight by wind gusts of over 50 mph.

Roads in the area are open only to residents at this time to remove animals but will be closed to emergency traffic only later. Residents may call the Larimer County Emergency Management line at 970-498-5500 for a recorded update of the latest information. Details are also available on-line at the Larimer County Sherriff’s Office website. Another media briefing is schedule for 6 pm. Updated 10:30 a.m. Sunday

-----------------------------------------

A wildfire burning in the foothills about 15 miles west of Ft. Collins was fanned overnight by strong gusty winds.

As of 9:00 am Sunday morning the Crystal Fire was estimated to be more than 2,000 acres in size with no containment. It started Saturday. Smoke is clearly visible in the city of Ft. Collins. The blaze has forced evacuations in three areas: south of Buckhorn Canyon, east of Crystal Mountain Road and 226 homes in the Redstone Canyon area. The Davis Ranch Road area in Rist Canyon has also been placed on alert for possible evacuations.

Roads in the area are open only to residents at this time to remove animals but will be closed to emergency traffic only later. Residents may call the Larimer County Emergency Management line at 970-498-5500 for a recorded update of the latest information.

Details are also available on-line at the Larimer County Sherriff’s Office website.

An evacuation center has been set up at Cache La Poudre Elementary School at 3511 West County Road 54G.  The Livestock Pavilion at the Ranch has been opened to house animals displaced by the fire. The Larimer County Humane Society is assisting with animal evacuations.

A second evacuation center has been opened at the Big Thompson Elementary School at 7702 West Highway 34 in Loveland.  

The blaze has already destroyed an outbuilding, a motorcycle and an all-terrain vehicle, but no injuries have been reported. A cold front that has moved into the area may help firefighters in the form of rain and snow today. Updated 9:20 a.m. Sunday