High Park fire update: 85 percent containment, many subdivisions reopened
Update, 5:49 a.m. June 25: Friday morning, reps for those battling the High Park fire near Fort Collins expressed concern that dry, hot, windy conditions forecast for the weekend might give the blaze a chance to gain strength and power -- and unfortunately, they couldn't have been more correct. The acreage increased in size, the amount of containment fell, and the number of homes destroyed ballooned to a shocking 248. And that's just the total confirmed.
According to the most recent update on the federal InciWeb page devoted to the long-running incident (two-weeks-plus and counting), the fire now stretches over 83,205 acres -- the second-largest in terms of territory in Colorado's history, behind only the Hayman fire ten years ago (north of 138,000 acres). But High Park tops another category: Hayman destroyed "only" 133 homes, just over half the number currently estimated to have been consumed by High Park.
Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service Wind pushes the fire upslope.
Moreover, containment, which had held at 55 percent on Friday morning, has slipped to 45 percent due to the conflagration's enlargement.
Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service Firefighters saved this historic school while the homes of some of them were burning the next ridge over.
A big factor has been the spot fire that bloomed in the Glacier View area -- although the word "spot" in this context seems entirely inadequate, given that it covers an estimated 10,000 acres, or 15.6 square miles, all by itself. It flared on Friday due largely to the presence of dry fuels and winds that gusted to 35 miles per hour. As noted by the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, sprinklers were activated in the area before firefighters were forced to move back by the intensity of the flames.
Meanwhile, a containment line has been built and is being held north of the Poudre River -- not that those manning this perimeter will be able to rest easy. The LCSO points out that "large, unburned interior islands" continue to pose threats to homes on the interior of the fire. Hundreds of residences are still evacuated, and beetle-killed timber on the west and southwest portions of the fire seem poised to keep feeding the blaze in the near term, at least.
Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service Looking west from the communication towers on Buckhorn -- the ones from which Jack-FM broadcasts.
The plan for today, say the feds, includes strengthening the line on the north, monitoring areas with structures, heavily staffing the southwest lines (the number of firefighters overall is up to 2,037) and "holding on to what we've got."
Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service A deer in the burn area.
Look below to see more photos of the fire and the surrounding area, courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, followed by our previous coverage.