Royal Gorge Fire: Evacuations lifted; Fire now 40 percent contained

Fire cuase under investigation

CANON CITY, Colo. - Evacuations have been lifted at the Royal Gorge Fire and the blaze is now 40 percent contained.

The fire started Tuesday near Canon City. It has burned approximately 3,162 acres and caused extensive damage at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. 48 of the park's 52 structures have been damaged, along with part of the historic bridge.

Fire Information Officer Mike Smith said the cable house for the incline railway was badly damaged, as were the tracks for that ride. The aerial tram and both terminal buildings were also lost, resulting in the cables plunging into the gorge.

The landmark Royal Gorge Bridge, a steel structure with wooden planks for a road surface, survived but has damage to 32 planks.

Because of the amount of devastation, Smith said it was easier to list the park structures that survived the fire. He said those were the Bighorn Lodge, Zip Line buildings, the park ranger building, the Plaza Theater, the Sky Coaster ride and the animal barn.

The fire is burning in piñon and juniper forests on BLM, state and private lands.

There are about 136 firefighters battling the blaze. There are also three air tankers and two helicopters assisting in the fire fight.

Fire managers said the Royal Gorge Tourist Train can begin operations again, once the railway can evaluate when they will be able to resume normal activities. The train runs through the bottom of the gorge.

River access on the closed portion of the Arkansas River (from Spike Buck to Cañon City) will be re-evaluated Friday, as the incident managers strive to restore the important recreation features that have been impacted by the Royal Gorge Fire.

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