Wildfire Near Loveland Burns 600-700 Acres

Air Tankers, Helicopters Battling Blaze

An out of control wildfire west of Loveland burned about 700 acres Sunday as authorities ordered residents to evacuate a 4-mile radius around Pinewood Reservoir.

Loveland officials said residents in the Stone Mountain area, Cedar Park and Bartram Park neighborhoods have also been told to prepare to evacuate.

The fire, centered between the Pinewood Reservoir and Flatiron Reservoir area, burned two homes, four outbuildings and a recreational vehicle, Loveland Fire and Rescue Division Chief Merlin Green said.

The blaze, called the Reservoir Road Fire, started about 10:30 a.m. Sunday and quickly grew.

The fire started in hilly grasslands, but soon burned into heavy timber with flames crowning high above mature pine tree tops.

Just after 1 p.m., the Loveland Fire Department issued urgent evacuation orders for Bitterroot Gulch Road, Quillen Gulch Road, Sawmill Road and Bowen Elk Road, warning that residents were in immediate danger.

At 8 p.m., officials said revised mapping showed the wildfire had burned 600 to 700 acres, down from an earlier estimate of 1,000 to 2,000 acres.

Smoke could be seen from as far away as Boulder.

Firefighters stood down Sunday night because it was too treacherous to fight in the dark, said Loveland Fire and Rescue Division Chief Merlin Green.

"It's pitch black and it's extreme, rugged terrain," he said. "It makes it very dangerous for them to be trying to be aggressive in their firefighting attack."

But fire crews will monitor the wildfire's direction overnight.

As of 8 p.m. fire officials said there was no fire activity west of the Pinewood Reservoir Dam. Homes in the Pinewood Reservoir and Saddlenotch areas are threatened.

A meeting place for residents who have evacuated was established at the Church of Loveland at 3835 S.W. 14th Street.

Resident Ken Spencer told 7NEWS he and wife were alerted by a neighbor's call that flames were heading for their home.

"We took our neighbor's word for it and started packing up," Spencer said.

Courtney Martin said her family is worried about a beloved horse that's been in the family for years. It's up in the fire zone.

"We've tried, and they won't let us get up there with a trailer," Martin said.

Officials said it's just too dangerous at this point.

Eight heavy air tankers, one single-seat air tanker and four helicopter tankers were used to fight the fire Sunday.

About 100 firefighters were on scene by 7 p.m. Fire officials said Sunday evening that there were 12 to 13 engine crews and two to three hot shot crews fighting the fire. They are asking for another 10 to 15 engine crews, eight handcrews and eight hot shot crews on Monday to help fight the fire.

More than a dozen agencies are helping fight this fire. The agencies include Loveland Fire, Big Thompson Fire, Union Colony, Windsor Severance, Poudre Fire Authority, Larimer County Sheriff, U.S. Forest Service, Berthoud Fire, Lyons Fire, Hygiene Fire, Estes Park Fire, Wellington Fire, Glen Haven and Pinewood Springs, according to the City of Loveland.

AirTracker7 saw flames burning within feet of at least two homes. Air tankers have made multiple slurry drops in an effort to contain the fire, which is rapidly spreading in the foothills.

AirTracker7 saw firefighters trying to save one two-story home but they were unable to keep the flames away. The home eventually caught fire and was destroyed. An A-frame home burned later.

There was no official cause for the fire. However, residents told 7NEWS there are reports a tractor operating in the area somehow ignited dry grass.

Lanny Cameron, an employee at the Mariana Butte Golf Course, wrote to 7NEWS saying he could see the flames.

"We have been watching pretty close, but it seems like the smoke is just going straight up in the air," Cameron said.

Residents needing shelter for large animals should call Loveland's police dispatcher at 970-667-2151. Officials said both small and large animals have been rescued from the fire zone.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Reservoir Road Fire. This is the second Fire Management Assistance Grant approved for the state of Colorado in less than a week. FEMA approved a grant for the Four Mile Canyon wildfire, which started on Monday, Sept. 6.

"While we don't send manpower or equipment to fight these fires directly, this grant will help ease the state's financial burden in responding to both fires," said FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan.

The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires. These grants do not provide assistance to individual home or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire.

A Safe-N-Well hot line specifically for evacuees or their family members wishing to make contact has been established. In Larimer County, people can call 2-1-1. People outside the county can call toll-free 1-866-485-0211.

Evacuees can also check in online at the Red Cross website SafeAndWell.com. Relatives can search the website to see if their loved ones have registered there.

View Wildfire West of Loveland, Colo. in a larger map