A wildland fire, estimated at 150 to 200 acres, continued to burn Thursday after forcing the evacuation of two subdivisions in Larimer County.
The fire was about 10 percent contained, but Larimer County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kathy Messick said they hoped to have a 70- to 80-percent containment by Thursday evening.
"We don't expect significant movement today, but the wind could change that prediction," said Larimer County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kathy Messick. "There is still a strong wind in the Bonner Peak area."
If firefighters get 80 percent containment by nightfall, the fire perimeter will be patrolled during the night, as opposed to active suppression, and firefighters will return Friday morning.
The fire was staffed Thursday with two Type II crews, 10 brush-type fire engines and 70 personnel.
The fire, fueled by strong winds Wednesday, settled down overnight as cooler temperatures and higher humidity arrived with a cold front.
The Granite Ridge Fire is located west of Highway 287 and southeast of Livermore -- which is halfway between Fort Collins and the Wyoming border.
Residents started calling authorities around 2:38 p.m., to report seeing large amounts of smoke. Larimer County sheriff's deputies were the first to arrive in the area and began evacuating residents in the direct path of the fire, Messick said.
By 4 p.m., the Larimer County Sheriff's Office sent out emergency notifications of evacuation to residents located in the area south of Pinion Ridge, north of Obenchain, east of Bonner Peak and west of Highway 287.
"We've lived here since 1990 and this is the third time we've been evacuated because of fire in the area," said one resident.
The area is not heavily wooded, but dry. It is sparsely populated and there is a lot of space between the ranch-style homes, Messick said. Residents say "dozens" of families live in the area.
Larimer County authorities said the cause of the fire appears to be a blown transformer, probably from the wind, on Deer Valley Lane.
AirTracker 7 flew over the fire Wednesday, but could see no flames -- just lots of smoke. The fire came close to some homes but no damage nor injuries were reported.
Displaced residents were asked to go to the Livermore Community Church, located at 284 County Road 74E in Livermore. The shelter opened at approximately 5 p.m. and the Red Cross was at the site by 6 p.m.
By 6:15 p.m., however, Juniper Ridge Road (the first side road in on the left from Hwy. 287) was reopened and some evacuated residents were allowed to return.
The sheriff's office said it could be later Thursday before other residents were allowed to return.
Residents needing to return to their home for small pets or medications can meet with law enforcement and will be escorted from the Bonner Springs Ranch Road and Hwy. 287.
There were no requests for animal evacuation.
Larimer County was under a red flag warning on Wednesday evening -- meaning that weather conditions were ripe for high fire danger -- and it was also under a high wind warning. The warnings expired at 9 p.m.
Agencies responding to the fire include Larimer County Emergency Services, Livermore Fire, Poudre Fire, Wellington Fire, Platte River Fire, Loveland Fire and Berthoud Fire. The Salvation Army will be providing cooked meals for approximately 75 firefighters and personnel on scene with their mobile kitchen.
Longmont Grass Fire
A small grass fire also erupted in north Longmont Wednesday afternoon, on Woodland Drive and Park Ridge Avenue, near U.S. Highway 287.
Firefighters said the fire started when strong winds downed a power line.
Longmont firefighters said they first received the call just before 5 p.m. but had it extinguished within one hour.
All northbound and southbound lanes were closed in the area to allow firefighters to fight the fire.
No evacuations were necessary but it burned very close to several homes.
Fire Also Reported In Adams County
There was another fire reported in South Adams County.
The fire started about 3:15 p.m. and burned down three sheds and one garage-type structure.
The fire is under control at this time and they are mopping up hot spots. That fire is under investigation.
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