It's been an extremely hot and dry Monday, but fortunately, the winds have not been as fierce as forecast, and therefore, the High Park Fire in Larimer County has not grown all that much by Monday afternoon, fire officials said.
The High Park Fire in Larimer County has burned 58,770 acres and containment was 50 percent, according to the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.
Even though most of the state was under a red flag warning Monday, the winds were weaker that forecast -- a slight relief for firefighters on the front lines.
"It's been a good day as compared to yesterday, " incident command spokesman Brett Haberstick said during a Monday afternoon briefing.
The red flag warning expires at 9 p.m. That warning means high winds, low humidity (3 to 8 percent) and warm temperatures are forecast.
"We are better off today than we were yesterday. Fire weather has not been as strong. Winds had been relatively calm today. Temperatures remain in the mid-90s with low humidity," Haberstick.
On Sunday, winds gusting up to 50 mph fueled the fire, triggering new evacuations throughout the afternoon. The wind also grounded all firefighting helicopters for several hours.
A Larimer County Sheriff's Office said an additional 8 homes burned on Sunday, making the total number of homes destroyed at 189, a record for Colorado.
"Yesterday, Mother Nature was pretty tough on us," said Bill Hahnenberg, Incident Commander, during Monday morning briefing. "I'm not happy about her behaving that way on Father's Day, particularly. So we are going to try and corral Mother Nature a little more effectively today and keep her from treating us the way she has."
Monday's Priority: South Flank, Northwest Corner Of High Park Fire
As many as 1,748 fire personnel are working on the wildfire day and night with a 24-hour work schedule in place.
There are also 118 fire engines, 37 crews and 17 helicopters assigned to the blaze.
"With 17 helicopters, we think we have good aviation assets," said Hahnenberg.
About 700 firefighters are working out of other camps scattered around the perimeter of fire to make them more efficient, officials said.
On Monday, the first priority was the south side of the fire. While the burn scar from last year's Crystal Fire helped contain the High Park fire, the blaze still made a 1,500 acre run in that area on Sunday, Hahnenberg said.
There are six engines, three crews and a bulldozer working in that area on Monday.
The second priority on Monday is the northwest corner of the fire. If the fire crosses the river in that area, it would encroach in the Glacier View subdivision.
"We are very well staffed along the river," Hahnenberg said. He explained there are a significant number of structure protection crews working in that area.
Officials were expecting critical fire weather on Monday. Not as critical as yesterday, but they were expecting winds coming out of the west at 15-25 mph gusting to 3 50 mph.
Because of the changing weather conditions, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office is asking residents in the area to remain vigilant.
"Fire instability tends to draw fire into the crowns of trees," Hahnenberg said.
"Thank you" signs to firefighters line the roads in the fire zones. One sign read, "I wanna marry a firefighter."
At a meeting for evacuees, many were still waiting for answers, but expressed their gratitude.
"We heard our house is still standing right now, by the grace of God and thanks to the firefighters," said Linda Baker, who lives in Glacier View.
High Park Fire A 'Sleeping Dragon'
"Yesterday really served as a reminder this isnt a single battle, this is a campaign," said Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith. "This campaign is going to go on for some time. Were going to have some good days and some bad days."
"The dragon lured us into the image that it was asleep, but it's not sleeping," said Chief Tom DeMint with Poudre Fire Authority.
The current cost of the fire to date is now estimated at $12.6 million.
There are four air tankers station at the Jefferson County Airport that will be working the High Park Fire, the Springer Fire burning in the Pike National Forest and a wildfire in Laramie, Wyoming.
The High Park Fire has scorched about 91 square miles of mountainous forest land.
The destructiveness of the High Park Fire surpassed the Fourmile Canyon wildfire, which destroyed 169 homes west of Boulder in September 2010. The largest fire in Colorado's history, the Hayman Fire, destroyed 133 homes in 2002.
At 6 p.m. Sunday, Larimer County officials sent 331 telephone notifications for mandatory evacuations in the Soldier Canyon and Mill Canyon areas.
The evacuation area included Lodgepole Drive and County Road 23 west and south, Red Cedar Drive, and east to County Road 23, officials said.
Mandatory evacuations were also issued Sunday for the area east of the Glacier View 9-12th Filings, which were previously evacuated. The new evacuation area is bounded on the east by Hewlett Gulch Trail, on the north by CR74E (Redfeather Lakes Road), on the west by the previous evacuation area and on the south to Highway 14 (Poudre Canyon Road).
Meanwhile, 473 pre-evacuation notifications were sent to residents of the Shoreline Road area south of Lory State Park, officials said. The pre-evacuation area's southern boundary is County Road 38E, the eastern boundary is Horsetooth Reservoir, and the western boundary is Red Stone Canyon.
Earlier in the afternoon, a red flag warning triggered a mandatory evacuation for the Hewlett Gulch subdivision.
Several of the firefighters in Rist Canyon have lost their own homes, according to Poudre Fire Authority Chief Tom Demint.
Another firefighter lost their home on Sunday.
"We lost a structure in Redstone last night," Demint said. "That's first one we lost in that subdivision. That home was owned by a firefighter that's assigned to this fire."
The firefighter's home was one of eight more homes that burned on Sunday.
Here are the subdivisions that had homes destroyed in the fire, according to the Sheriff's Office:
-- Redstone Canyon - 1 -- Soldier Canyon - 1 -- Missle Silo Rd (29C) - 1 -- Cloudy Pass - 1 -- Picnic Rock - 1 -- Pine Acres - 5 -- Stratton Park - 21 -- Poudre Canyon - 17 -- Spring Valley - 3 -- Old Flowers - 1 -- Whale Rock - 40 -- Paradise Park - 12 -- Tip Top - 2 -- Rist Creek - 7 -- Davis Ranch - 51 -- Laurence Creek - 0 -- Buckhorn (CR44H) - Unknown -- Stove Prairie Road - 10 -- Rist Canyon - 8
Larimer County opened the High Park Fire Disaster Recovery Center on June 15, at Johnson Hall on the Colorado State University Campus. The center is open Mon.-Fri. from 7 AM to 7 PM and Sat.-Sun. from 9 AM to 3 PM. The center will likely remain open for 3-4 weeks. More information about the Disaster Recovery Center at Larimer.org.
Horsetooth Reservoir is open to the public; however, Horsetooth Mountain Open Space remains closed.
View Larger High Park Fire Map
| Google Earth Infrared Map: http://tinyurl.com/8y95l2x
Map of Fire from Larimer County: http://larimer.org/highparkfire/inventory_area_map.pdf
Another Larimer County Map: http://larimer.org/highparkfire/HighPark_0613_2200.pdf
InciWeb Link: http://inciweb.org/incident/2904/
Air Quality Link: http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/advisory.aspx
You can also call the Larimer County Emergency Information line at 970-498-5500 or go to http://www.larimer.org for more information.
Larimer County residents can sign up to receive emergency notifications on cell phones or email at www.leta911.org .
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