Investigators say the Woodland Heights Fire in Estes Park wasnt very big, but it was very destructive.The blaze, which burned 27 acres, apparently started in a cabin and destroyed 22 residences and two outbuildings on the west side of Estes Park.Officials said the fire was fully contained by Sunday night.There was a fire evacuee-only meeting scheduled for 8 p.m. Sunday at the the Estes Park High School evacuation center, 1600 Manford Ave. Officials will provide residents information on when they may be able to return home.Michaela Kuncherenko learned from her brother, who is a firefighter, that her home had been destroyed."My home was lost, and he had to stand there and watch it burn and continue to fight for everyone else's homes," Kuncherenko told 7NEWS reporter Amanda Kost on Sunday.Despite the loss, the woman said she was lifted by an outpouring of support from neighbors and phone calls from family members across the country."Even just hugs and love and things like that, it's really been incredible. I don't have anything, but I feel pretty rich from all the love and everything that I feel," Kuncherenko said.Meanwhile, Angela Welborn said had been told her home was lost, only to find it still standing."We all thought it was gone. They even told us it was gone," she said. "And then the house is sticking straight up. Everything around it's burnt."The fire had spread rapidly on Saturday.We were called to a structure fire, said Estes Valley Fire Chief Scott Dorman. When we arrived, three buildings were already fully involved.The fire spread from the cabin on High Drive to nearby wildland, sending a thick plume of black smoke into the sky over Estes Park.Estes Park police and the Larimer County sheriff issued evacuation orders for people living or camping on the west side of town.Fran Dean was vacationing at the Elk Meadow RV Park.We heard a couple of popping noises, Dean said. I opened the door and the flames and smoke were 3 to 400 yards away from us.During a public briefing Saturday evening, officials said the YMCA Camp near Rocky Mountain National Park was open once again. However the High Drive area remains closed due to hot spots and downed power lines.Thats where we live, Welborn said, while looking at her charred neighborhood from across the highway. I see my chimney but everything else around it is burned.Welborn said she wont know until tomorrow whether her house survived the blaze.Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith called the loss of 20 homes tragic. But he said it could have been much worse.Smith said firefighters were able to borrow several choppers from crews battling the High Park fire. He said those choppers were instrumental in keeping the Woodland Heights blaze as small as it was.
Late Saturday, fire crews went into mop up mode. Several were assigned to watch for flareups overnight.The American Red Cross opened a shelter for evacuees at Estes Park High School, 1600 Manford Ave. Resident were not allowed to return to the burned area Sunday because it was still too dangerous.Submit your fire photos here: http://bit.ly/MNaL20
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