Royal Gorge Fire burns 20 buildings, burns an estimated 3,100 acres

Fire forced evacuation of 881 inmates from prison

CANON CITY, Colo. - The Royal Gorge Fire is estimated to have burned 3,100 acres and destroyed or damaged 20 structures. Containment is estimated at 20 percent.

Some buildings related to attractions at the Royal Gorge Bridge were destroyed, but the bridge remained intact.

Fire behavior throughout the day Wednesday was described in an 8:30 p.m. briefing as "active with visible torching, spotting and running in heavy fuels."

"We have made good progress on the fire today without any accidents or injuries thanks in large part to our many partners," said Dennis Page, Incident Commander for the Royal Gorge Fire. "Crews from Canon City, Fremont County, and the State of Colorado are working alongside firefighters from the BLM and U.S. Forest Service."

There are about 150 firefighters battling the blaze.

Mandatory evacuations are in effect from Parkdale to the Canon City Water treatment plant, north of the Royal Gorge. U.S. Highway 50 is closed in both directions from the Canon City Water treatment plant (1st Street) to Highway 9. Temple Canyon road has also been closed.

The fire also forced the evacuation of 881 inmates from Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in Canon City late Tuesday night, state prison officials said. The medium-security inmates were relocated to the vacant Colorado State Penitentiary II, which is also in Canon City.

The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park has been evacuated since Tuesday afternoon and the Arkansas River was closed from Spike Buck through Canon City.

"Attention: Park closed temporarily until further notice," the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park website said Wednesday. "Please check back for updates."

BLM spokeswoman Denise Adamic described gusty wind conditions in the fire area south of Royal Gorge. She said the fire, which started on the south side of the Arkansas River around 1 p.m. Tuesday, crossed to the north side of the river.

Adamic said the fire is burning on both BLM, state and private lands.

The Canon City Fire Protection District said the fire was being pushed toward the north, which is where evacuations are in effect.

The Red Cross said an evacuation center was opened at the Evangelical Free Church in Canon City at 3000 E. Main St.

Officials requested two single engine airtankers and one heavy air tanker.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

-- Fire Evacuation map:

View Royal Gorge Evacuation Zone in a larger map

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