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High Park Fire: 68,200 Acres, Optimism About Additional Containment

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U.S. Forest Service

Currently at 68,200 acres, the High Park Fire continues to burn west of west of Fort Collins. Containment remains at 55%, but fire officials are optimistic about additional containment by the end of day.

With weather that has been cooperating suddenly, rather than working against them, fire crews continue to monitor the north, south and eastern edges of the fire. Containment lines have been completed in those areas and overall containment stands at 55%.

Media, including reporter Grace Hood, were granted access yesterday to the interior of the burn zone on the northern edge of the High Park Fire. Pictures show scorched land, islands of green and unburned materials, and damage to structures.

While some homes and structures have escaped damage, others have not. To date 189 homes have been confirmed lost. Assessments on damage continue and insurance companies have already started processing claims for lost or damaged properties.

Larimer County has released today's detailed IR Heat Boundary map [.pdf] of the fire as well, showing growth along the western flank of the fire. Fire crews continue to look for opportunities in the rough terrain to contain the fire within Highway 14, East of Pingree Park rd, and North of Old Flowers.

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Update 10:17am

Reporter Nathan Heffel sent in this summary of this morning's media briefing:

Incident commanders are confident that with active fighting operations tonight and possibly tomorrow, there will be a fair amount of additional containment. However, with red flag conditions forecast for Friday through the weekend, Incident Commander Bill Hahnenberg says the active advancement firefighters are now making, may have to slow.

“We have days we can be aggressive, we have days when we can’t be aggressive. Yesterday and today were aggressive days. Tomorrow may be more of our patient days and hold on to what we got.”

Residents of Poudre Park will be allowed to return to their homes after 12 o’clock today. Credentials will be required and must be obtained at the checkpoint at Hwy 14 and County Road 29c.

There is a mandatory meeting for all Poudre Park residents tonight at the fire station (or community center, depending on the number of people who attend) at 7pm.

The evacuations being lifted do not include Unger Mountain road, Falls Gulch Road, and Kings Canyon road (also called Boyd Gulch Road.)

At noon today upper Poudre Canyon residents in the Upper Rustic area will have a meeting at the Chapel in Rustic to get information about their area. At 3pm there is a regular citizen briefing at The Ranch in Loveland for evacuated residents.

Larimer County officials says there are roaming police patrols, National Guard Personnel and video surveillance being used in evacuated areas to ensure that homes remain safe, but are not subject to looting.

By the numbers as of this morning:

  • 68,200 acres
  • 55% containment
  • Land ownership estimate as of 6/18: 68% state & private and 32% U.S. Forest Service
  • $19.6 million estimated cost to date
  • 1,978 total personnel
  • 17 helicopters
  • 4 Heavy Air Tankers
  • 132 Engines
  • 18 Type 1 Hand Crews
  • 23 Type 2 Hand Crews
  • 23 Water Tenders
  • 5 Dozers
  • 6 Feller Bunchers to cut and gather trees
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