A pleasantly cool day in Northern Colorado Wednesday allowed firefighters to contain spot fires and mop up some hot spots in the interior of the High Park Fire, which is now burning on 68,200 acres — 106 square miles, more than twice the size of San Francisco — with 55 percent containment.
According to fire managers, the fire actively spread to the west Tuesday night. Helicopters were brought on early in the morning for spot fires that occurred overnight, and the 1,978 personnel and 132 engines on scene concentrated on active structure protection and burnout operations in the northwest corner along the Pingree Park Road. More than 1.3 million gallons of water have been dropped on the High Park Fire to date, and the cost of fighting it has risen to $19.6 million.
The fire is currently holding south of the Poudre Canyon, although falling rocks and debris in the canyon have limited access and led to temporary closures to fire traffic along Colorado Highway 14. The highway remains closed to general traffic from Rustic to Gateway Park.
A media tour up to mile marker 115 in Poudre Canyon yesterday revealed one burned home just west of Picnic Rock. The parking lot and fishing area at Picnic Rock was not affected by the fire. The information center at the mouth of the canyon was heavily damaged. Gateway Park was untouched by the fire.
For complete information on road closures, go to larimersheriff.org/site-page/high-park-fire-road-information.
Residents in Soldier and Mill canyons, the Hewlett Gulch area, and south of Horsetooth Reservoir were allowed to return to their homes. Glacier View filings 9-12 and Stratton Park are still under mandatory evacuations.
For a complete list of areas that remain evacuated, visit www.larimer.org/emergency/.
The Larimer County Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday that if the weather cooperates, residents of Poudre Park will be allowed to return home on Thursday after noon. This does not include Unger Mountain Road, Falld Gulch Road or King’s Canyon Road (Boyd Gulch Road). Credentials will be required to enter and may be obtained at the checkpoint at Highway 14 and County Road 29C.
A mandatory meeting for all Poudre Park residents will be held at the fire station or community center (depending on the number of attendees) at 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss what the sheriff’s office calls the reintegration process.
The evacuation center at Cache la Poudre Middle School has been closed, according to Patrick Kind, High Park Fire Community Liaison and former principal of the Poudre School District’s mountain schools. He is coordinating efforts to meet the needs of families displaced by the fire, securing donations of things like gas cards to make the trips to the daily 3 p.m. briefings at The Ranch affordable and He has also been organizing activities such as the community picnic last Friday, a family bowling night at Chippers North Lanes on Friday and play days at The Edge, to help families who may have been out of their homes for nearly two weeks take a break.
Kind can be reached at either 970-488-6575 or 970-692-3172 by anyone who would like to volunteer or has items to donate.
Other services for those affected by the fire can be found at the Larimer County High Park Fire Disaster Recovery Center on the Colorado State University Campus at Johnson Hall. The center is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A complete list of resources available can be found at www.larimer.org.
The county is also partnered with Adventist Community Services Disaster Response to open a Donations Collection Center in the old Mervyn’s space at the Foothills Mall, 215 E. Foothills Parkway in Fort Collins. The space and all utilities costs have been donated by mall management.
In addition to collecting needed items daily between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., the center will also be able to accept cash donations. Donations will be made available to those affected by the High Park Fire starting Thursday. For more information on the donations center, go to www.HelpColoradoNow.org.
More information about the High Park Fire is available at the Larimer County Emergency Information line at 970-498-5500 where information officers are answering the phone during the day and evening, on Twitter @larimersheriff or Inciweb at www.inciweb.org/incident/2904/.